Combating Climate Change with Circular Cities at COP24

COP24 Side event Friday 7 December – Benelux/European Investment Bank (EIB) pavilion

Leading up to the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, several reports stated that the window for limiting temperature rising to 1.5°C is narrowing. The necessity for climate action is more urgent than ever before.

Both cities and the circular economy have been previously identified as having important potential to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. With this in mind, the European Investment Bank (EIB) organised a side event on the role of circular economy in cities in combating climate change at the Benelux/EIB pavilion. The EIB was joined by speakers representing OECDSITRAC40EIT Climate-KIC Nordic and the Polish Ministry of the Environment.  

Jonathan Taylor – we are just in the beginning of the transition towards a circular economy

Jonathan Taylor, Vice-president of the EIB, started the session saying that we are just in the beginning of the transition towards a circular economy, which is necessary to mitigate climate change. The EIB showed their commitment to this task by releasing a new report: 15 circular steps for cities, highlighting elements that make cities suitable as both cradles and catalysts for a circular transition and outlining 15 steps that cities can take to become more circular.

Tadashi Matsumoto – unlock the potential of circular economy in cities 

Tadashi Matsumoto, Senior Policy Analyst at the OECD, continued the session by explaining the framework conditions to unlock the potential of circular economy in cities. This important OECD work will start in January 2019 and will support interested cities and regions by building an indicator framework for supporting decisions and evaluations, providing an analysis of socio-economic and environmental trends and tailored recommendations for each city/region joining the programme and fostering city to city learning and national-subnational coordination. 

Oras Tynkkynen – we can cut emissions by more than 50%

Then, Oras Tynkkynen, Senior Advisor at SITRA, presented the newly released report from Material Economics – supported, among others, by SITRA and EIT Climate-KIC. One of the conclusions from the report is that a circular economic approach can cut EU industrial emissions from materials by more than 50% by 2050. Thanks to material recirculation, product material efficiency and new circular business models, emissions from steel, plastics, aluminium and cement can be reduced by 56% by 2050.

Charlotte Breen – strategies for a more circular approach

Charlotte Breen, Project Manager at C40, started her presentation with an aerial image of the world’s largest landfill facility – clearly illustrating the need for a more circular approach. Luckily there are already cities working on this agenda and together with EIT Climate-KIC, C40 has collected 40 concrete examples on how cities around the world are working with circularity today – Municipality-led circular economy case studies. Based on the cases Charlotte gave some insights on the most common strategies cities are taking on, including mapping material flows, civic reuse and repair, and using circular procurement criteria. Finally, some very innovative examples were displayed. In particular, in Stockholm they are making biochar from plant waste, to be used as soil conditioner.

Peter Vangsbo – an innovative approach to attain circular solutions

Concrete innovation around circular economy was also the cornerstone of the presentation delivered by Peter Vangsbo, Business Development Lead at Climate-KIC Nordic. He presented an innovative approach to attain circular solutions for challenges cities are experiencing today. Through an open innovation competition, the cities of Malmö, Oskarshamn, Lund, and Bjuv have been exploring how to establish sustainable urban food production using waste heat as a resource. Out of 56 solutions submitted from 18 different countries, three finalists were selected to compete for the grand prize of €210K. The selected winner, Season5, presented a modular system for urban food production. The winning solution is expected to financially break even in 6 years, with an initial investment on €3M. This case illustrates that it is possible to make circular solutions that within a short period can provide a revenue and at the same time create a better living environment, create jobs and educate society green and circular innovative solutions.

Concluding remarks

Rounding up the presentations before the panel discussion, the Polish Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment Bogusława Brzdąkiewicz presented how the polish government is strategically working with the circular economy agenda. The final panel discussion brought up interesting perspectives from the panel and ended up the interesting session on circular cities. 

In his concluding remarks, Jonas Byström, Senior Engineer at the EIB and panel moderator, explained how the EIB can support the circular transition in cities through both loans and advisories. 

Here you can have a look at a short video where Oras Tynkkynen shows how the circular economy is a force for climate mitigation and how the Nordics are uniquely positioned to increase the collaboration that boosts the circular economy in fighting climate change. 

If you want to know more about EIT Climate KIC’s work on Circular Economic in Cities and how to be engaged as a city or a private company please contact: 

Peter Vangsbo, Nordic Business Developer 

Mail: peter.vangsbo@climate-kic.org  

Mobile: +45 41762849 

 
Location
Katowice
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