The 56th Session of the Bonn Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UN, took place from 6th to 16th June last week. It happened at World Convention Centre in Bonn, Germany. The event hosts a debate about the current state of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental destruction. It sets a target that will set the groundwork for success at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
This discussion is an opportunity to summarise the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference which took place in Glasgow last November. Discussing climate change, government representatives have finalised the operational details of the Paris Climate Agreement and future mechanisms for implementation.
The Bonn Climate Change Conference was the first time since the conclusion of COP26 that world leaders came together to debate key areas of mitigation, adaptation, and provision of support to developing countries. Leaders also discussed the impacts of financial losses and physical damage due to climate change. The Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, opened the conference by highlighting some key points. These included how political-level interventions influence decisions to mitigate the impacts of economic activities on the climate. Read the UN Climate Press release about the Bonn Climate Change Conference here.
The current economic model:
A linear economy and social-environmental impacts on the earth formed the base of all the discussions. It was highlighted once again that the traditional model of resource extraction is not sustainable and generates innumerable impacts. Current economic activities threaten forests, oceans, soils, and air. The immense use of natural resources is sending us a warning for future generations. Alarming the public to extreme heat, low air quality, superstorms, wildfires, floods, soil degradation and desertification. This system follows the take-make-dispose scheme where feedstocks go from “cradle to grave”. A sustainable, circular economy model is required for environmentally friendly development. This works by capitalising on these abundant resources while supporting long-term human and environmental health.
Immediate action and progress with policies was the central demand of the conference. The world is currently on track to exceed more than double the 1.5ºC goal of the Paris Agreement. The United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aims to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2ºC. Consequently, we need to drive efforts to limit the any temperature increases past to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. This is necessary by the end of the century. Climate change is progressing exponentially!
Is there an economically viable and environmentally sustainable system?
At Bonn, the target was to speed up negotiations and establish a political structure for the circular economy transition. In the last century, economists and scientists have been concerned with finding alternative economic models that would enable sustainable development. In 1989, Pierce and Turner concluded the circular economy theory that originated in the 1960s.
The circular economy concept was an effort by economists and scientists to elaborate a conscious production model for products and resources. Creating a transformative economic system should be celebrated. So, the world needs to embrace this model and reap the benefits that come with it for combating climate change!
The circularity model aims to retain the value of recycled material while eliminating waste as much as possible. To clarify, resources should be used minimally and reused to the maximum. By inverting this destructive paradigm, a circular system provides opportunities to preserve resources and ensure more high-quality, sustainable use which increases value and innovation. There is an improvement in our products and projects.
The sustainable business is looking to provide sustainable waste management, and recycling products as a rentable service to facilitate easy investments. The design of materials, products and business models needs to be restorative or regenerative. We need to aim for the elimination of waste by recapturing it as a manufacturing resource. The advantage of our system is that it has a low life cycle carbon impact and eliminates the negative climate impacts of organic waste.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation developed this diagram to show a business model with a circular process in the production chain.
Is the transition a real priority of governments?
We are happy to say that officially, the answer is yes!
The European Commission has taken many actions to make this continent more sustainable. Above all, evidenced by the implementation of policies such as the European Green Deal which will prevent resource depletion and climate change. In March 2020 they developed the new circular economy action plan. According to the European Commission (2020), the plan aims to make sustainable products the norm in the EU. In addition, empowering consumers and public buyers, and focusing on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high. These include electronics, batteries, vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction, food, water and nutrients. The plan also aims to ensure less waste, make circularity work for people, regions and cities and lead global efforts toward a circular economy.
Portugal is leading Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth to increase the business initiatives in the circular economy system. The government is following all the recommendations developed by the Action Plan and the resolution of the Council of Ministers (n.º 190-A/20) prioritises the transition to sustainable business models.
In 2022, the most recent update to this regulation requires companies to use official methods for quantifying the carbon footprint of products and businesses. This will reduce greenwashing and improve the reliability of climate messaging. Above all, this will also help to improve company sustainability and increase the confidence of the customers. At SEaB, we are looking forward to similar legislation across all European countries to drive the circular economy transition!
What comes next?
The next meeting of world leaders for climate change is at COP27 in Egypt. Certainly, this event will be a clear message to the world to make effective decisions and take action on social-environmental plans. In addition, the leaders intend to accelerate the circular economy transition through legislation, policies, and programs across all jurisdictions and sectors and put the Paris Agreement into practice in their home countries.
The UNFCCC has concentrated its efforts on Kyoto Protocol targets. The ultimate objective of all agreements is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The best way is to invest in the bio-economy and green business. In conclusion, circular economy business projects enable sustainable development. This makes it possible to reduce the rate of climate change which will allow ecosystems to adapt naturally.