Pär Larshans, Sustainability Manager at Ragn-Sells reflects on COP 24, and how circular economy and climate fit together.

COP 24 - reflections on this year's meeting

Circular economy and climate – how do they fit together? What are these COP meetings? How are they connected to the global goals? And why is this important for Ragn-Sells? A lot of questions, but let’s start from the beginning.

05 Dec 2018

As far back as 1895, the Swedish researcher Svante Arrhenius published the world’s first scientific paper on the climate issue and the risks of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air. So we have known about the risks of increasing contents of carbon dioxide in the world for a long time. But what has happened since then?

It was to take until 1988 before UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation founded IPCC (www.ipcc.ch/), which is the organisation that was established to obtain a scientific consensus on the consequences of global warming.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, coming into force in 1994, by which time a sufficient number of the world’s countries approved the agreement. The aim of this agreement was to enable the content of CO2 in the atmosphere to be stabilised. By 1995, all the world’s countries had backed it.

The first COP meeting was held in 1995 in Berlin (COP 1), representing the start of negotiations which culminated in the KYOTO protocol in 1998. The Paris Agreement (COP 21) was concluded in 2015, specifying a climate budget for how much CO2 can be emitted. In practice this means that it is no longer about stabilising carbon dioxide emissions, but also about removing CO2 from the atmosphere. On 25th September of the same year, the UN’s member countries adopted Agenda 2030 - a universal agenda which includes global goals for sustainable development. In turn, the 17 global goals have 169 sub-goals and 230 global indicators. Global goal no. 13 concerns combatting global warming.

During this year’s COP meeting (COP 24), the concrete application of the Paris Agreement will be in focus and the consequences of what is decided will potentially have a direct impact on the rules of the game for how companies need to adapt their business models. It is here that Ragn-Sells’ solution to create circularity and help our customers can constitute a real benefit.

I will be taking part in a number of different seminars myself on the importance of access to free trade, principally in relation to issues of resource recovery and energy consumption. What is obvious is that voices from the business world are gaining more prominence all the time, and that our major positive contribution is precisely the transition to a circular economy, which essentially involves a new way of producing goods and services. In June this year Material Economics presented a report where the value to the climate of moving from linear to circular flows simply from the four materials studied delivered climate benefits of the same magnitude as the entire Paris Agreement. So, it is very clear that the recycling industry has an important role to play in contributing to reducing the risks of global warming – it all depends on whether we get the right rules in place.

I will return with direct reports from COP 24.

Pär Larshans
Sustainability Manager Ragn-Sells