Regional policy implications of the circular economy

As circular economy thinking takes hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists, policy is tending towards circular as a strategy to reach environmental objectives.  Hopes are that  production systems will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity. The Swedish Government formed its own Circular Economy Delegation last year and recently announced its national strategy for the Circular Economy  and 100 measures to transition to circularity.

Policy needs to align, but this raises questions. The economy is a complex adaptive system, and any intervention may cause the opposite of the intended effects. This article explores my own very personal reflections based on earlier work together with my recent work with the local university.  

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Not targets but U-turns: reflections on the IPCC report

Released today, the report, which summarises scientists’ understanding of what is happening with climate change, warns that Earth will unavoidably hit the critical threshold of 1.5°C warming due to climate change within the next 20 years. This is a combination of natural processes and human emissions. This is regardless of how radically global governments cut greenhouse gas emissions. This article urgently proposes a new framing approach: a pivot.

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Urban symbiosis for the bio-economy

The basic model of urban symbiosis

It hasn’t been done as far as I know, but it would be good to plan a city or town along urban symbiosis lines. And to concentrate on bio material, including nutrients, being used and circulating as long as possible in the urban economy.

The diagram above shows the basic pattern:

  • Four major functions
  • Four major flows

It is called symbiosis because the design calls for the four flows and functions to synergise with each other. For example, nutrients from sewage and household organic waste can be used as soil amendments. Water flowing can generate electricity, waste heat from industries can be used in greenhouses, etc.

Regional progress towards circular economy in Sweden

https://play.hig.se/media/t/0_b8yf9n1r

This interview, by Vojtech Vosecky from Circle-economy.com, looks at the results of a recent investigation by the University of Gävle into the status and training needs of regions in Sweden.

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John Kerry, envoy for the climate, tells it by not telling it

On January the 21 st John Kerry, now the special presidential envoy for climate, presented a new direction for the US climate strategy. All friends of sustainability will be heartened by his comments that the US will move forward with humility and ambition. What he didn’t talk about is perhaps less heartening.

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Johan Rockströms performance lecture: a review

THREAD FROM TWITTER: Johan Rockström’s Performance lecture at the Swedish National Theatre (in Swedish, English Subtitles) and what it tells activists and Scientists alike. Watch it now or read my review 1/n

Performance Lecture: Om vår stund på jorden – Performance Lecture: Our brief moment on earthWhat will our children’s and grandchildren’s world look like? Is there something we can do today to avoid the worst catastrophes, and is there a light at the end of the tunnel, leading us to a sustain…https://www.svtplay.se/video/29406900/performance-lecture-om-var-stund-pa-jorden/performance-lecture-om-var-stund-pa-jorden-avsnitt-2?start=auto

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2020: A year of tough realisations

For me, 2020 was the year I threw myself into the circular economy. Along the way I came up against a lot of really challenging things. Let’s look back on a year’s blogging together, with some sidetracks into things that I only just started to accept during the year.

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The time to pivot is now

My interpretation of what a pivot is: a cap on resource withdrawal followed by a rapid reduction. A pivot can happen before or after the breach of capacity. When the pivot happens greatly affects how much resources will be needed to rectify the situation, as well as the costs of the negative impacts of overshoot. This article lays out the basic concepts of pivot.

Anyone growing up when times just get worse will expect that they will continue to get worse. Growing up in a time when things just get better you will expect them to continue to get better. The worst are when things have been getting  better but you know they are going to get a lot worse. That is where we are. It’s uncomfortable to say the least.

We are waking up the realisation that progress since the 1950s has actually been at the expense of earth systems and natural resources. The carrying capacity of earth systems has been eroded to such an extent, and populations and their material uses have grown to such a magnitude, we now find ourselves in overshoot.

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Indigenous leaders’ message about regenerative agriculture. We should listen

Regenerative Agriculture and Permaculture Offer Narrow Solutions to the Climate Crisis


Regenerative agriculture (Regen Ag) and permaculture claim to be the solutions to our ecological crises. While they both borrow practices from Indigenous cultures, critically, they leave out our worldviews and continue the pattern of erasing our history and contributions to the modern world.

While the practices ‘sustainable farming’ promote are important, they do not encompass the deep cultural and relational changes needed to realize our collective healing.

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Multi capital scoring: how to measure what matters in the circular economy

As circular economy thinking takes hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists, policy is tending towards circular as a strategy to reach environmental objectives. Hopes are that production systems will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity. This article explains why that might not be so easy and offers a way forward.

Circular economy thinking is taking hold among policy makers, civil servants and scientists alike. For example, the Swedish Government formed its own Circular Economy Delegation last year and recently announced its national strategy for the Circular Economy. Facing reduced material availability and rapidly reducing use of fossil fuels to align with the Paris accord, Sweden hopes that its production system will continue to deliver and indeed grow economically, but with far less material and fossil energy intensity. This article explores some of the theoretical and practical challenges of measuring what matters in order to help frame policy and effectively pursue  strategy.

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