Pricing in Externalities to Drive the Circular Economy

World Biogas Association - Conference: Making Carbon Count

As the European Commission determines what a future Emissions Trading System will look like post – Paris, it is also finalising the Circular Economy package.


Twenty years ago, on December 11th 1997, the world’s nations adopted the Kyoto Protocol, the first international commitment to combat climate change by reducing Green House Gas emissions. The Paris Climate Change Treaty, adopted in December 2016, has given new impetus to the global commitment to face the existential challenge of climate change.

It is therefore fitting that on this important anniversary, WBA, in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee of the European Commission, meet to discuss and analyse the current status on carbon pricing, carbon markets and how these could influence European policies on resource management and recovery.

The call for a carbon price is strengthening with the recently formed Carbon Pricing Leadership Initiative among others, arguing the case (including major oil companies, countries, the IMF and World Bank). By pricing in the externalities of carbon emissions, many believe we may have an instrument to increase the speed with which we reduce emissions and collectively achieve the target of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2°C by the end of this century.

As the European Commission determines what a future Emissions Trading System will look like post – Paris, it is also finalising the Circular Economy package. Whilst the two policies seem to be disconnected, they are potentially synergic as pricing-in the value of avoided carbon emissions, or the cost of carbon emissions, could have a significant impact upon the markets for secondary raw materials from waste. WBA is especially keen to explore this hypothesis with regards to food waste, but carbon pricing potentially affects most waste streams.

The questions we will be asking in this meeting are : could carbon pricing boost the Circular Economy ? What mechanisms are needed ? Who pays and who benefits ? How would financial markets adjust and long term investments be impacted ? What political pressure is needed to enable the cost of externalities to be recognised and used as a driver to greater resource recovery ?

An illustrious panel of speakers will debate these issues with the audience.

  • David Newman, President WBA
  • Dr Janez Potocnik, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel, UNEP and former EU Commissioner for the Environment 2010-2014
  • M. Pierre Jean Coulon, President Transport, Energy, Infrastructures and Information Society Committee, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Felicity C Spors, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist, Carbon Markets and Innovation, Climate Change Group, World Bank
  • Ollie More, Head of Policy, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, UK
  • Jacob Simonsen, Danish Waste Association, Confederation of European Waste to Energy Plants
  • Vanya Veras, Secretary General, Municipal Waste Europe
  • Wendel Trio, Director, Climate Action Network, Belgium
  • Dr. Gianni Silvestrini, Director, Kyoto Club, Italy
  • James Alexander, Director of City Finance Programme, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
  • Maximo Miccinilli, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, European Aluminium Association
  • Dr. Adam Read, External Affairs Director, Suez Environment UK and FEAD

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