Zero emissions: the circular economy marks the way to go

Zero emissions: the circular economy marks the way to go


One of the key conclusions to be drawn from two authoritative studies published in the fourth quarter of 2018 is that the circular economy can help us save the planet.

In the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, researchers at the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) describe the grave consequences of climate change if we fail to keep global warming below a threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The report also lists measures to be taken in order to avert disaster – using energy from renewable sources, increasing energy efficiency, reforestation and carbon capture.  

The Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) takes an in-depth look at economic drivers up to the year 2060 and the related environmental consequences, highlighting the importance of the circular economy to sustainable development. Its most important conclusions are that around half of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to resource use. However, the growing importance of services will reduce the need for materials, technological innovation will help economic development become less reliant on resource consumption and innovation will make recycling increasingly competitive.

Viewed together the two reports demonstrate the circular economy’s great potential for contributing to decarbonisation, and the urgent need to explore its possibilities and to take full advantage of these in order to safeguard our planet’s future. The list of important sectors includes energy generation, transport, heating and air conditioning in buildings, as well as industries for the production of steel, plastics, aluminium and cement. The circular economy has been a priority for the Enel Group for some time now. The main field of action for our company involves an increasing shift of the generating mix towards renewables. We are also actively working towards decarbonisation in a number of other areas. For example, with the circular procurement project we are seeking to measure the circularity of our suppliers to guide them towards innovative solutions with lower raw material and energy consumption and therefore lower emissions.  

The new Division Enel X was launched in 2017, dedicated to renewables, energy efficiency and innovative electricity technology (e-mobility charging platforms, new-generation batteries, smart lighting and more besides) to offer clients products and services that combine competitiveness, performance and respect for the environment. By using solutions based on the philosophy of sharing, the “product as a service” concept and the extension of product lifecycles, we aim to make further reductions in consumption and lessen the environmental impact. All these solutions are an integral part of the “circular city” model. It is crucial to put this into practice to make tomorrow’s cities sustainable and to improve people’s quality of life.

Last but not least, our Group’s construction sites around the world for building new plants and dismantling obsolete assets are managed with an emphasis on the circular economy, adopting a series of best practices that enable us to monitor and improve performance constantly in order to cut the environmental impact of our operations to a minimum.