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Circular Energy: The EU’s pathway to a circular and carbon neutral future

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Executive Summary

Lead contributor: Vlatka Katusic

The world’s security, stability and prosperity are challenged by a wide, multifaced spectrum of threats ranging from traditional armed conflicts, terrorist attacks and asymmetric warfare to pandemics, environmental risks and conflicts, climate change and other human-induced or natural disasters. Most countries and large organisations are engaged in a transformative process to enhance their resilience, and secure sustainable and competitive economies. Strategies, policies, legislation, and action plans are the key drivers to meet these objectives. This chapter argues that the EU has developed a comprehensive toolbox that contains political and legislative energy and climate-related actions ranging from the conceptual to the funding level that can enable the transition to climate-neutral and circular models. Since its establishment in the fifties, this is the first time in EU history that the Union has been so determined to pursue its objectives through an all-inclusive approach engaging EU institutions, governmental entities, industry, and the European citizens.  In this respect, the EU’s energy toolbox has an instrumental role in helping the Member States and the EU to become a resilient, competitive, and prosperous economy. 

Establishing a climate-neutral economy requires, a transformative change in mindset, industrial and business models. It means diversifying and reducing EU’s energy dependencies and becoming resilient and autonomous. Climate neutrality is the end state of EU’s ambitions to build a resilient Energy Union. This transition will enable the EU to diversify its energy dependencies, decarbonise the economy, advance research and innovative solutions, and ensure energy security to its member states and partners. 

By introducing the reader to the instrumental drivers ranging from policies, strategies to legislation, and funding to meet ambitions and objectives. Practitioners will dive in the EU most advanced and comprehensive packages for achieving the goal of building an energy resilient Union and becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Along this chapter practitioners will understand the need for a mindset change to build on the past and not be refrained from it for a more promising future. This is essential for reaching the EU’s climate-neutrality objectives by 2050. While this transition requires a whole-government and whole-society engagement best practices, disruptive clean technologies and circular models should be applied. According to the European Commission’s second annual 2021 Strategic Foresight Report – “The EU’s capacity and freedom to act” cutting to net-zero the GHG emissions by 2050 could help reduce EU’s energy dependency from around 60% today to 15% and “this should be supported by significant progress on the Circular Economy. 

The chapter presents the EU toolbox , including the key instruments helping and enabling the Member States and the EU to become a climate-neutral economy. It also emphasises the importance of incorporating the core principles of the Circular Economy from the outset in the development and implementation of any action to ensure competitiveness and efficiency in the long term. 

How you will learn?

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Discover what's inside

How do we achieve climate neutrality?

Building a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy is the backbone for achieving climate neutrality. Discover a promising pathway to ensure sustainable, competitive, and affordable energy while boosting economy, prosperity and improving citizens’ quality of life.

What to include in the energy toolbox?

Explore the European policy and legislative landscape that shows how the European Union developed a well-advanced and comprehensive legislative package to build a resilient energy union and become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

What is the political approach for the transition?

A comprehensive overview of critical political strategies at the national and European level exposes the association to the effective implementation of the EU ambition to boost the green transition and ensure a resilient Energy Union where the European citizens access secure, competitive, and sustainable energy.

What type of action plans can we consider in a transition?

Based on general objectives such as What must be done? What tools are needed? When will it be finished? Discover how the European Union has developed different action plans defining the process to achieve climate neutrality and transit to a Circular Economy.

What is the role of National Energy and Climate Plans?

National Energy and Climate Plans are the frameworks helping EU Member States present their plans to meet the EU’s energy and climate-related objectives. Explore now these plans that enable following the member states’ climate and energy objectives, policies, and measures for ten years.

What is the link between energy legislation and Circular Economy?

Learn now how energy directives and regulations enable and drive countries to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency will create and/or enhance the necessary understanding of ensuring sustainability and competitiveness in the long term by integrating the core principles of circularity from the outset.

How to address the challenges of achieving climate neutrality?

Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 will be more challenging for some European Union Member States and Regions than for others. Explore now how the EU provides financial support and technical assistance to help those most affected by the move towards a climate-neutral economy.

How to move towards climate-neutral and circular economies?

Circular Economy principles applied in all sectors and levels are critical in accelerating the efforts to achieve energy and climate targets and deliver against the commitments in line with the Paris agreement. Discover how to build on the past and not refrain from it for achieving 2050 climate neutrality

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Enrollment Information

  • Once you have enrolled, you will be given access to our Learning Management System.
  • The course is entirely online and self-paced. We estimate that the total effort required to be 3 hours.
  • You will be guided through the original content of the course with dynamic, rich, enjoyable, narrated, and easy-to-understand content. The course is divided into easily navigated sections focusing at each stage on the learning objectives to be achieved. Each section is followed by non-graded “knowledge check questions”, to help you ensure that you have successfully assimilated the content. You can go back and view the content as often as you like.
  • When you reach the end of the course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion.

What you will gain

  • Access to one Circular Economy course, with free access to the content for one year.
  • A digitally enabled, verifiable, and shareable certificate acknowledging your achievement.
  • One-year free membership in the Circular Economy Alliance Community, including access to Circular Economy Alliance members, resources, and events.
  • Special access to Circular Economy related events, research, resources, and news.

Please note:

  • In many EU countries, the cost of certification can be covered by personal or corporate “training accounts”. Please inquire within your organization or with the appropriate institution within your country for more information.


Circular Economy Alliance Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics

The Circular Economy Alliance platform, services, and products are designed to appeal to and be used by people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, countries, religions, and cultural norms. These diversity and inclusiveness are core values of the CEA, and we encourage our Community to embrace it and share it. That said, this geographic and cultural diversity can make effective communications and general policy definition a bit challenging.

That said, CEA is committed to advancing the transition to a just and inclusive Circular Economy which aims to decouple economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design, and tackle climate change. To achieve its mission and vision of a socially fair Circular Economy, CEA has adopted the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and endeavours to promote the common good while creating value for all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Code of Conduct has been developed to ensure all activity on the platform and within the CEA community is mutually respectful. The Code of Ethics sets out the guiding ethical principles relative to all professional activities of the certified members of the Circular Economy Alliance, informs the actions of our partner network, and defines the conduct of CEA staff and persons acting on behalf of the Company.

The purpose of our Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics is to ensure that the Circular Economy Alliance platform (the Platform), products and services are inclusive and that we, our members, and our community uphold the principles and values linked to Circular Economy, social responsibility, sustainable development and all relevant domains, to ensure that people and the planet are not harmed in the name of profit, and that we all conduct ourselves with mutual respect.

Code of Conduct

The CEA Code of Conduct reflects the ethics and values of the Platform, product, services, and community. It has been prepared with members of the CEA community (the Community), content contributors, instructional designers, and administrators based on established best practices. With the involvement of our stakeholders, we will continue to update the Code of Conduct as we add new products, services, and activities and as we receive feedback from our learners and community members.

We cannot foresee all eventualities and align with all local regulations, so the Code of Conduct should indicate the nature of interactions and the social dynamic we would like to see on this Platform and within the Community. In the event of an issue not covered by this Code of Conduct, the CEA team will decide whether a behavior is acceptable or not, in a manner that is as fair and transparent as possible, while respecting the confidentiality of all involved.

This Code of Conduct applies to all activities on the Talent Learning Management Platform, the Circular Economy Alliance website, its social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord, etc.), including comments, forum posts, and private messages.

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines for conduct:

  • Contribute to maintaining a safe, supportive, and orderly online learning environment that is conducive to learning and to show respect and dignity to other persons and to property.
  • Contact or communicate with CEA administrators and other personnel in a respectful, positive manner.
  • Behave and communicate on and off the Platform in accordance with the principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and inclusiveness.
  • Help ensure all CEA members and personnel have a positive experience in all interactions with you.
  • Appropriate behavior we encourage is as follows: communicating and interacting with respect; demonstrating empathy and sensitivity; giving constructive feedback; acting in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, that is, showing respect for other norms, cultures, life preferences; promoting the values and principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and sustainable development.
  • Maintain behavior free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Other forms of inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated include dangerous, inciteful, or hateful speech; harassment or intimidation; threats of violence; intentional disruption of online discussion, webinars, conference, or other events; retaliation; influencing or encouraging any of the above.
  • We are a learning community, united around the principles of Circular Economy. As such, we encourage experimentation, a growth mindset, and tolerance for failures, mistakes, or lack of understanding.
  • Despite our shared values, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a community as diverse as the Community. In the event, have a calm discussion, ask for clarification, and don’t assume that someone is intentionally being offensive.
  • Please get in touch with the site administrators to report any conduct, posts, activity or content that you do not believe is in accordance with this Code of Conduct. We encourage the Community members to report any incidents that violate the Code of Conduct. The CEA team will respond in a timely manner, and the member who violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted directly. Please use the Contact Us link to report any breaches.
  • Please protect your own and other people’s privacy. Please be mindful not to post or otherwise share your own or other people’s personal information publicly online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Talent Learning Management System is private and is not searchable online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Community platform is publicly visible and searchable online.
  • If you delete your CEA Community account, you can request that your Community posts and private messages be removed or anonymized.
  • The website administrators may delete activity, comments, posts, and equivalent that do not adhere to the CEA Code of Conduct.
  • In the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, we either issue a warning, announce an account suspension or, in the event of a grievous violation, we may announce account expulsion and removal from the platform and the Community.
  • If you are part of the Community, we share the same principles. Let’s share the responsibility for creating a positive dynamic on the Platform.

Code of Ethics 

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are strongly encouraged to uphold the highest standards of ethical norms in line with Circular Economy principles and values:

  • Act with transparency, honesty, integrity, and make the interests of society and the environment a priority, avoid any known conflicts of interest, and aim to create value for all stakeholders.
  • Promote the circularity and sustainability of the systems regulating economic life according to the principles of “people, planet and prosperity”.
  • Act with respect for others and the environment and practice their professional activities in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner that upholds the values of equity, equality and tolerance.
  • Exercise their leadership and decision-making skills in the pursuit of establishing a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in society.
  • Act in a way that furthers the integrity of the discipline of Circular Economy and its representatives.

The code of conduct is regularly reviewed to reflect necessary adaptations that emerge from input received through our CEA members’ reporting or by changes to the prevailing regulatory framework.

Effective as of: 1 March 2022

Last revised: 28 February 2022

More detailed information can me found in the General Terms and Conditions and the Certifications Terms and Conditions.


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