The first working group report of the IPCC, published last summer, focused on the physical evidence of human-induced climate change. The second, now released, considers in more detail interactions between humans and nature and points to solutions.

It concludes that 40% of the world’s population is “highly vulnerable” to climate change. It identifies nature restoration as critical to reducing and mitigating the effects of climate change and argues that cities as a key part of the solution, as places where renewable energy, and greener transport and buildings can be mobilised.

Yet industry analysts have noted that, as with the output of COP 26, the report fails to acknowledge waste management as important in reducing greenhouse gas emission.

The only uses of the term ‘recycling’ in the 3,676-page report are with reference to moisture and nutrient recycling in biological systems and the re-cycling of human waste to reduce the use of phosphorous. Virtually all uses or the term ‘reuse’, which are mainly in footnotes, relate to wastewater, rather than products or value chains.

Correcting this imbalance, Renewi chief executive Otto De Bont told MRW that system change around reuse and recycling can keep materials in use and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.

He said: “The obstacles to a well-functioning circular economy are easier to overcome than we think. Recycling, like most markets, is about supply and demand.

“Governments, policymakers encourage and create a clear normative regulatory framework. Producers and consumers will follow and take responsibility. Let’s not wait for each other and work together to close circular chains.”

The report concludes that time is running out. It says: “Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.

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