To meet climate goals, world urged to reuse natural resources

More of the billions of tonnes of materials the world uses each year must be recycled and reused to keep climate change in check, researchers said on Tuesday.

Only about a tenth of the nearly 93 billion tonnes of materials utilised annually – including minerals, metals, fossil fuels and biomass – are currently put back into service, said a report by Amsterdam-based social enterprise Circle Economy.

CEO Harald Friedl told the Thomson Reuters Foundation more efficient use of those resources could help avoid overshooting the goals adopted in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the average rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F), and ideally to 1.5C, above pre-industrial times.

The Circle Economy report said 62 percent of heat-trapping emissions, excluding land use and forestry, are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods.

To tackle climate change, government policy has so far focused on adopting renewable energies, boosting energy efficiency, and stopping deforestation, the report said.

“It is like when you look in your closet on a morning and you only look for pants,” said Friedl by phone. “We need to change the whole system.”

The amount of materials the world uses has tripled since 1970 and could double again by 2050 if no action is taken, the United Nations estimates.

To reduce waste and emissions, economies should seek to become “circular” by reusing products, Friedl added.

“To make things circular may be painful – from changing consumer and business habits to telling countries to put up the right regulations – but it is feasible,” he said.

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published on January 22th, 2019 on af.reuters.com

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