Circular economy can cover half of countries’ climate pledges: Andy Ridley, CEO, Circle Economy

Ilario D'Amato
30 August 2016

Andy Ridley

LONDON: The circular economy has the potential to cut a quarter of the global emissions necessary to achieve the climate targets agreed in December at the historic COP21 climate summit in Paris, according to Andy Ridley, CEO, Circle Economy.

In an exclusive Climate TV interview at the Business & Climate Summit in London in June, Ridley emphasized that “the role of the circular economy, when it comes to meeting the targets from COP21, is very large.”

The Paris Agreement on climate change was reached at the COP21 summit by 195 United Nations member states who pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions - but according to a report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), these pledges would not achieve key targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

“We know the gap between what countries have already committed to” and the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, says Andy Ridley, and it leaves “about 60% of the targets to be completed. We looked at that 60% and established that the circular economy can cover about half of that.”

A white paper released at the Business & Climate Summit by Circle Economy and the international consultancy Ecofys shows how the circular economy can help to reduce the gap, accelerate the implementation of a low carbon economy, and decouple prosperity gains from raw material use.


“It’s amazing to see the progress that’s been made since COP21, and it’s amazing to see so many businesses here at the Business & Climate Summit in London,” says Andy Ridley.

An analysis by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation estimates that the circular economy is a US$1 trillion opportunity.

But business can and must do much more through shared economy, reuse and recovery: “About 50% to 60% of global emissions are coming out of material use,” Ridley says, “and we think applying circular economy strategies you can cut that by about half.”

“We now want to go really deep into that, sector by sector, geographically, and see what that really starts to look like.”


Philips, one of the first companies to join our RE100 campaign, has made the circular economy an important pillar of its business strategy. “What has become more and more interesting is the number of large companies that are engaging in circularity,” confirms Andy Ridley, “and how to implement that on a massive scale.”

Speaking about Philips, he says that “15% of their business will come from circular strategies within the next 5 years. That’s a massive shift – and of course, once you get momentum, more and more happens. We’re pleased to see that happening already, but of course we want to see that accelerated.”

The circular economy appears more and more as both a business and environmental necessity, which must be implemented across all policies, concludes Andy Ridley. It is “a great opportunity in terms of the business strategies,” and we must implement it fast “because it’s something that doesn’t particularly require innovation – it requires implementation.”

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