A new Club of Rome study on the Circular Economy and Benefits for Society



The Club of Rome has released its latest study on “The Circular Economy and Benefits for Society” at the European Parliament, Brussels ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, (COP 21) in Paris at the end of November 2015.

Its findings provide rigorous scientific new arguments for a swift move to a circular economy – an industrial system that is restorative by intention and design. Rather than discarding products before their value is fully utilized, we should design and produce them for continuous re-use.

It currently takes the Earth almost one and a half years to regenerate what we use each year, and the ecological footprints of developed countries are far larger than those of developing countries. If everyone lived at same living standards as America does today we would need more than four planet Earths. The status quo cannot continue as the world develops and its population rises. Unless progress is achieved differently, economic growth will lead us towards a crisis, socially, environmentally and politically.

Anders Wijkman, Co-President of the Club of Rome and author of the study said:

“For too long green policies have been seen as a threat to both business interests and jobs. The Club of Rome study proves such views wrong. A circular economy would lead to more jobs and lower costs for companies. In addition, carbon emissions would go down significantly. Jobs and climate are clear winners when moving towards a circular economy”.

This study presents a well-researched and achievable economic alternative to the current model of endless economic growth on a finite planet. Of central importance is to view a circular economy not as an environmental issue alone, but as an integral part of humanity’s long term economic viability.

The main purpose of this study is to broadly explore the potential for a significant increase in resource efficiency and to specifically assess what the main benefits for society would be ? looking at carbon emissions and employment in particular. We are using the Dutch, Finnish, French, Spanish and Swedish economies as test cases.

  • In Finland, a move towards a Circular Economy is likely to cut carbon emissions by almost 70 % by 2030.. The gains in terms of employment are estimated to be in the range of 75.000 additional jobs.
  • In France, Co2 emissions would go down by 2/3 and employment gains would be in the range of half a million jobs.
  • In the Netherlands the picture is very similar. A significant reduction in carbon emissions and employment gains in the range of 200,000 jobs.
  • In Spain, carbon emissions would go down by 60-70 % and employment would be boosted with an estimated 400.000 additional jobs.
  • In Sweden, a Circular Economy would cut carbon emissions by 2/3 and contribute to at least 100,000 new jobs representing almost 3 % of the labor force

The report can be downloaded here in English, in French and in Polish.

Read an article about the report on the website Energy in Demand here.

Watch a video from the European Commission presenting its Circular Economy strategy

For further information please contact Alexander Stefes on + 41 (0) 52 244 0808 or astefes[at]clubofrome.org