The motivation for this special issue on circular economy, and national and global policy, originated during the international stakeholder meeting (Ochoa 2019) for our SUNRISE flagship project (Abbott 2019; Kupferschmidt 2019) in Bruxelles in June 2019. At the same day, one mile away from our meeting, Deutsche Energie Agentur (DENA) held a panel round table meeting on regulation for renewable fuels (Powerfuels 2019), at which the author could participate. The SUNRISE flagship is a European initiative for the sustainable production of solar fuels and base chemicals. The yet to be developed technology is based on the chemical reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) from concentrated sources and from the atmosphere, and solar water splitting for hydrogen production. Hydrogen and carbon dioxide will be synthesized to hydrocarbons for industrial use. When the synthetic hydrocarbons are consumed, carbon dioxide will be generated and fed back in a circular process, powered by renewable energy. In this extended carbon cycle (Calvin 1961), CO2 is a valuable asset and remains part of the global biogeochemical cycle and becomes part of the circular economy. CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will be reduced to an acceptable, climate neutral value once the cycle is in operation (Faber et al. 2020).