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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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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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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Circular city logistics

This article comes from the book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet” a novel which asks the question “if you were to visit a city that was sustainable- what would it look like?” The novel about the city of Porena contains several far-reaching ideas including the idea of global design with local assembly. In this section the book’s hero, Max Wahlter, describes how circular manufacturing needs circular local city logistics to be sustainable.

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System description

Overview of the current economic system

In order to change something you need to see how it is from the start. We identify 21 vital flows in the system representing economic transactions and relationships to natural capital. The three main types of flow are:

  • Material flows, for example minerals, products, waste (in BLUE)
  • Flows of money representing economic transactions (in GREEN)
  • Work – selling of citizens’ time to firms and authorities (in RED)
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Circular Economy manufacturing the Porena way

This article comes from the book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet” a novel which asks the question “if you were to visit a city that was sustainable- what would it look like?” The novel about the city of Porena contains several far-reaching ideas including the idea of global design with local assembly. In this section we meet an article written by the book’s hero, Max Wahlter, after a visit to “the future” to investigate sustainable logistics and manufacturing.

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Story of Noah: are we back there?

This is not really about the Bible story of Noah, but it takes the story as its starting point. I can’t help but think that in old stories there are nuggets of wisdom that get lost as the story gets told and re-told by different people. The thing that got my attention in the Noah story was that before the flood came, the earth was corrupt. Apologies in advance to those who take the Old Testament as absolute truth.

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