The Circularity Gap Report 2021 finds that circular economy strategies can cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39% and help avoid climate breakdown. The 22.8 billion tonnes (Gt) of annual emissions associated with creating new products from virgin materials can be eliminated by applying circular strategies that drastically reduce the amount of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass consumed by the world’s economy.
These circular strategies, 21 in total, can keep the planet on a well below 2°C trajectory by cutting emissions by 22.8 billion tonnes beyond what is achieved by current climate commitments, a 39% reduction from 2019 levels. They would also increase the proportion of materials that are reused from 8.6% to 17%, nearly doubling the circularity of the global economy.
The report offers blueprints for action tailored to countries at different levels of development as they plan to stimulate economic recovery from the Covid pandemic and strengthen their climate commitments ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit in November 2021. Country leaders are presented with an opportunity: by integrating circular strategies with existing climate commitments, they can keep us on a path well below 2-degrees.