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Implementation at a city level of circular economy strategies and climate change mitigation – the case of Brussels

Christis, Maarten, Athanassiadis, Aristide, Vercalsteren, An
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.218 pp. 511-520
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, carbon footprint, circular economy, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, hinterland, household consumption, households, input output analysis, local government, urban areas, Belgium
Within the framework of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the increased acceptance of circular economy (CE) principles of national and local governments, it is essential to study the potential effect on climate change of CE-strategies implemented on an urban scale. The present research quantitatively assesses the potential impact of these strategies on primary material footprint (MF) and carbon footprint (CF) of households in areas an urban area, using the case of Brussels Capital Region (BCR), Belgium. Because the CE-strategies are linked to consumption domains, this assessment first calculates both footprints of consumption domains using a city-level input-output analysis and discusses the relationship between the footprints. The findings show that the carbon footprint of BCR in 2010 was 22 Mt CO2-eq. or 20.3 t/cap. The material footprint of BCR in 2010 was 31 Mt or 29.5 t/cap. Important insights are that BCR relies on its hinterland for 98% of its primary materials and 83% of the region's greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are emitted outside of its territory. The household consumption domains of food, housing and transport were identified as hotspots in both footprints. Within these domains, we calculated and discussed the potential impact on both footprints of CE-strategies on consumption or production of food, mobility and housing. Results from this case show that with these strategies Brussels could mitigate 25% of its CF and 26% of its MF, 18% of its CF and 26% of its MF, and 7% of its CF and 10% of its MF, respectively. The methodology and insights could therefore support authorities and policy-makers to effectively develop coherent and consistent action plans on consumption domains to improve resource efficiency and reduce the GHGs, simultaneously.