Circular approaches to addressing climate goals builds upon natural cycles, moving away from a linear design towards a more holistic, circular approach. In circular approaches, products and materials are designed to be reused, remanufactured, recycled or recovered and are thus maintained in the economy for as long as possible (along with their constituent resources), while the generation of waste—especially hazardous waste—is avoided or minimised. A low-carbon approach to the circular economy complements and builds upon the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) model of managing GHG emissions, while adding a fourth, Remove. It not only recognises our problematic relationship with carbon, but emphasises the many opportunities associated with carbon and curricular approaches. Carbon is understood not as a pollutant, but instead as a resource that can be integrated and used to create new valuable products. Likewise, the circular approach to carbon considers nature as a defence mechanism against climate change impacts. It then becomes possible to close the loop on emissions, through two means: addressing the current design problem and using nature-based solutions.

Redesigning materials and products so that GHGs remain in the cycle for as long as possible

This narrative is made possible by redesigning buildings, systems and cities in such a way that materials can be reused, remanufactured, recycled or recovered, and crucially, maintained in the economy for as long as possible. In this way generating waste is avoided or minimised, leading to a healthier relationship with carbon.

Mimicking natural processes of the earth Nature-based solutions can be taken to be part of circular approaches, as they are able to remove carbon from the atmosphere and address biodiversity needs, while enhancing responses to climate impacts. Carbon plays a key role in human and ecological systems, especially as it applies to climate change. Recent research suggests that NbS could substantially help with the mitigation needed to move towards Paris goals, while also becoming central to addressing climate change and its impacts. Efforts to avoid ecosystem loss or degradation, or other adverse land- and sea-use changes, as well as conserving, restoring and sustainably managing the world’s ecosystems can ensure that nature continues to provide important benefits to society.

It is expected that the portfolios and visions created by the project may empower its participants to pursue all opportunities for minimising and reducing GHG emissions while addressing the impacts of climate change. By taking into account the carbon and remove aspects, the visions, portfolios and learning opportunities brought forward by the project can highlight opportunities to address climate change, and positively impact the carbon cycle’s interactions and effects within and across socio-economic and environmental systems and within local cultures and traditions.