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Driving Circularity: The role of energy policy and legislation

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The world faces unprecedented energy, environmental, climate and sustainability challenges, including biodiversity loss, resource use, and pollution. The Paris Agreement is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement recognizing the necessity of applying a framework to tackle climate change’s cascading and transnational effects. Parties committed to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2°C while pursuing means to limit the rise even further to 1.5°C. There are movements, policy proposals and approved or under process pieces of legislation around the world pushing for new green deals designed to reduce emissions and foster greater sustainability. The challenge ahead is to achieve this ambition collectively, effectively, swiftly, and affordably apply the energy sector’s appropriate policies and regulations. The chapter DRIVING CIRCULARITY: THE ROLE OF ENERGY POLICY AND LEGISLATION advocates that the common ground for addressing this complex matrix lies in two inter-related processes: advance sustainable energy by applying circular economy principles. Appropriate energy policies and regulations can play a vital role in accelerating the transition to a circular economy and integrating circularity in the various economic sectors while preserving a positive societal and environmental impact. 

By introducing the reader to the energy and climate realm, practitioners will find an in-depth analysis of the energy policy and regulatory framework relying on the EU’s and its 27 Member States work. Notably, the EU is a party to over 40 multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) , demonstrating the determination of its Member States to address climate change and environmental risks. In 2015, the EU published its Energy Security Strategy and, in 2019, its new energy rulebook, the Clean Energy for all Europeans Package. These publications marked the political and legislative commitment to cleaner energy models and reduced GHG emissions while boosting the economy and respecting the environment. Building on this momentum, the EU embarked on a transition towards a low-carbon, climate-neutral, resource-efficient, and the circular economy. Several other profoundly transformative initiatives followed, such as the European Green Deal, the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), the Climate Law, the European Industrial Strategy, the Fit for 55 Package, the EU strategies for energy system integration, hydrogen and offshore renewable energy to the European Battery Alliance and the European Climate Pact reflecting the EU’s efforts to assist the EU Member States to pledge to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. 

Overall, the chapter explores and provides an understandable overview and analysis of the essential policies and legislative actions that the EU mobilizes to move towards a circular, sustainable, and climate-neutral economy by 2050. It also aims to communicate information and examples in a timely and precise manner on implementing the circular economy from an EU climate and energy policy perspective and provide practitioners from public and private sectors with valuable and practical insights. 

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