CIRCOMOD’s second workshop, 5 December 2022 : Towards the common vision and narrative in modelling

One of the key challenges in the scientific modelling is to reflect the whole complexity of the real economy. The core task of CIRCOMOD is to build and demonstrate models of an ambitious circular economy.

What is an ambitious circular economy? It is the one that has the whole spectrum of circularity possibilities  – Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Repurpose, Recycle and Recover – otherwise known as R strategies. The role of both producers and consumers is important in these strategies and therefore in the circular economy. Moreover, the possibilities with these R-strategies vary from product to product, from material to material and from industry to industry. Integrating all these elements would mean that we gain a better understanding of the impacts of the circular economy. There are also geographic boundaries and regional and national contexts to consider if the model is to be relevant to governments and people living in specific regions and countries.

The CIRCOMOD team, which brings together groups of scientific modelers from different modeling schools, has been working on these challenges since the beginning of the project and met in a dedicated CIRCOMOD workshop in Utrecht in early December.

One of the core discussions focused on the headline and stories that can be offered by CIRCOMOD that would be most valuable to policy makers in driving the transition to a circular and low carbon economy. Further discussion was about connecting story, impact and model development. Special sessions were devoted to visioning and scoping within the model and scenarios, impact categories, R-strategies, regional, sector and material coverage. Despite all good intentions, each model has constraints and these must be taken into account.

Another highlight of the workshop was the presentation of stylized models developed by each group. These are CIRCEE – dynamic general equilibrium model presented by CMCC, CGE model CML from TiU, MIMOSA-MA model from PBL and UU. (see here more about different models covered in CIRCOMOD)

The modelers agreed on harmonizing assumptions, securing links between styled models, as well as with the bottom-up models, and discussed possibilities for coordinating data exchange between models.

Finally, there was a discussion about existing and upcoming EU policies addressing the circular economy and which policies can best be addressed by each type of modeling approach. Coming up with a good approach for this will be the focus for the following work.

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