Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Circular Economy Modelling for Climate Change Mitigation (CIRCOMOD)

How might we include circularity into the models often used in IPCC reporting (in technical language, how can IAMs, dMFA models and CGE models be integrated?) What are possible futures for global resource use and what are the consequences for greenhouse gas emissions in these scenarios?

2022 - 2026
Tomer Fishman
EU Horizon programme EU Horizon programme

Utrecht University (coordinator)
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
E3 modelling
Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change
Freiburg University
Tilburg University
Pforzheim University
NOVA University
Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving
Power Algae LLC

Short abstract

Integrated assessment models, industrial ecology models of resource flows and stocks and general equilibrium economic models all capture important aspects of society’s metabolism, its drivers and its consequences for environmental impacts, especially climate change. In combining them we aim to provide a vision for how circularity can address material and climate concerns which will inform decision making from regional to global scales.

The CIRCOMOD project employs three model types to deal with circular economy questions: Integrated Assessment Models, Industrial Ecology Models & Macro-Economic Models.

Project description

1. Societal relevance

Resource use also drives greenhouse gas emissions. Limiting resource use and changing the way we produce them can play an important role in addressing climate change. However, we know relatively little about the size of these opportunities. A main reason for this is a lack of models that able to account for future scenarios which also include circular economies. Developing such models will be important for decision makers across many different scales – from regional to local.

2. Scientific relevance
Integrated Assessment Models are used to support global-level climate policies. They include many variables, but omit the important parameters of how we use resources along with the economic driving forces for both their use and for energy. Combining the dynamics of Integrated Assessment Models with economic models (CGE) and material models (MFA) is a significant scientific challenge. Once solved, it will represent a major step forward in the modelling of the resource-energy-climate nexus.

3. Material & Methods

The three different types of model (IAM, MFA, and CGE) will be provided by the expert partners of the consortium. We will first understand each other’s models, then identify potential linkages, and finally integrate them into one modelling framework. We will run scenario analyses with the combined models, to identify the potential of resource efficiency and circular economy policies on the reduction of GHG emissions. Finally, we will answer the question, how climate targets can be met by considering both energy and resources.
4. Results & Conclusions

We don’t know to what extent we will succeed. We have identified several variables that allow for linkages between the different types of models. We expect this will already be an improvement over  running each model independently without any connections. We expect to identify a number of options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are currently omitted or overlooked in today’s climate policies.

5. Follow-up

This research field is huge and we we don’t expect this project to be the last of its type. We expect that it will be possible to adopt resource-oriented policies within IAMs that support climate policies. In addition, we also expect that we will be able to model the material requirements of the new energy system that must be built up to reduce GHG emissions.

6. Why Leiden University?

CML is a global leader in the use of industrial ecology models to assess resource extraction and use.

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