News Details

Mission Innovation Think Tank: The Circular Carbon Economy – From Concept to Realization



The Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) builds on the principles of the circular economy and applies them to managing carbon emissions:

  • to reduce the carbon that must be managed in the first place,
  • to reuse carbon as an input to create feedstocks and fuels,
  • to recycle carbon through the natural carbon cycle with bioenergy, and, unique to the CCE,
  • to remove excess carbon and store it. Realizing a circular carbon economy requires efforts to bring down the costs of key technologies.


As Mission Innovation (MI) member governments advance collaboration to scale-up relevant technologies from carbon management to clean fuels – the CCE can provide a useful framework to guide action and investment. To bring together expert voices on this topic with the broader clean energy community – on January 31, 2024, MI and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) convened an MI Think Tank webinar to share knowledge on the CCE.

During the event, expert speakers from KAPSARC (Adam Sieminski, Mari Luomi & Brian Efird), Mission Innovation (Eleanor Webster & Kees Kwant), Institute of Energy Economics Japan (Yoshikazu Kobayashi), European Commission (Johanna Fiksdahl & Dražen Tumara), APChemi (Suhas Dixit), and Worley Consulting (Erica Bhasin) shared their perspectives on the CCE – from its concept and implementation in a national policy and economic context, to the specific technologies needed for its realization. The CCE has cross-cutting relevance across MI’s focus areas.

MI Member Governments continue to collaborate and accelerate clean energy innovation in technologies critical to the realization of the CCE – including carbon dioxide removal, clean hydrogen, zero-emissions shipping, and bio-based fuels, chemicals, and materials. Discussion on this topic through the MI Think Tank will help to accelerate the development of these technologies and strengthen the policy, programming, and financial frameworks to support them.

Key Takeaways from the Think Tank Webinar

  • The Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) emphasizes that a narrow focus on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) with a limited set of approaches, particularly through renewable energy and energy efficiency alone, won’t achieve net-zero emissions goals. While the scale-up and deployment of these solutions remains critical, holistic solutions will also consider approaches such as switching to lower-carbon intensity fuels, nuclear energy, and carbon management (e.g. capture of CO2 for storage, capture of CO2 for reuse and recycling in value-added applications, and the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through technological and nature-based solutions) to achieve global net-zero goals.
  • The CCE is technology-neutral, meaning it encourages the use of all available decarbonization methods and allows flexibility based on national circumstances.
  • Bio-based resources are crucial for achieving a CCE, by replacing fossil-based fuels, chemicals, and materials. MI’s Integrated Biorefineries Mission is advancing collaboration on research and development, pilots and demonstrations, and markets, policies, and regulations to accelerate the development of these technologies and processes.
  • Robust measurement, reporting, and verification systems are critical to enabling a CCE, and clear metrics that enable comparisons across countries, including through KAPSARC’s CCE Index, are essential for informed policymaking.
  • Early planning of CO2 infrastructure is vital for connecting emitters with transportation and storage. Markets will develop around the early adopters of carbon management approaches and technologies.
  • A wide range of technologies exist to support CO2 utilization, from advanced technologies to valorize plastic waste to CO2 sequestration in building materials.



  • The resulting Think Tank Report from the CCE Think Tank Webinar can be found here.
  • You can watch the full recording of the event on MI’s YouTube page, here.
  • Stay tuned to MI’s website and social media for news on future Think Tank events!


The MI Think Tank was launched in July 2023 to supercharge knowledge sharing and dissemination on high-impact clean energy RD&D topics among the MI Community and beyond. Through member-driven workshops and events, the Think Tank accelerates collaboration and best-practice exchange between members and partners on cross-cutting issues related to the successful design and implementation of clean energy innovation policies, programs, and collaborations.