Negotiations on first global plastics treaty underway in Ottawa

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Insights from Eco Business, Bloomberg, Reuters

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This week, thousands of negotiators, researchers, civil society organizations and businesses representing more than 170 countries gathered in Canada to draft the first global treaty to reduce the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Plastics currently account for 5% of global climate change emissions, and the report predicts this could rise to 20% if no action is taken. by 2050.

At the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, countries agreed to work together to conclude a legally binding treaty by the end of 2024.

However, countries have their say on whether the agreement should focus on waste management and recycling or on more ambitious goals such as production limits and phasing out certain types of plastic. are divided.

The talks follow a controversial round of treaty negotiations in Nairobi, with countries including Saudi Arabia disagreeing on the issue. language Regarding production restrictions. The final round of talks will be held in Busan, South Korea, in December.

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Treaties should provide for binding reductions, not voluntary commitments

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Source: Eco Business

Applying lessons learned from past major global agreements will help ensure the plastics treaty’s success, the environmental science professor wrote in Eco Business. The 1989 Montreal Protocol has proven powerful in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals because it sets out mandatory schedules and legally binding reductions, says Dr. Jorge Emmanuel writing.

By contrast, agreements that rely on voluntary initiatives or carbon offset schemes (up to 94% of which are worthless, according to scientific studies) are less likely to yield results. “What we need is Binding global reduction targets They must be based on mandatory timetables without free riders, and their targets must be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C,” Emmanuel warned.

Petrochemical lobbyists seek to influence treaty negotiations

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Source: Reuters, Nature

Oil majors such as Shell and ExxonMobil have expressed support for the treaty, but Reuters reported: behind the scenespetrochemical lobbyists and industry groups are trying to steer the debate away from production caps that could limit production.

“Plastics manufacturers are calling on UN representatives to focus on waste collection, recycling and early waste-to-fuel technologies that do not impact their operations,” the report said. However, many advanced plastic projects failure To become commercially viable, the process would generate toxic waste that could end up in waterways.

The role of oil lobbyists in influencing the Ottawa talks has puzzled scientists, with one environmental toxicology professor arguing in Nature that policymakers should move on from their role. insulating scientific institutions Due to corporate intervention.

EU hopes to take lead on plastic regulation

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Source: Bloomberg

Over the past four years, the European Commission has passed extensive packaging and plastics regulations specifically targeting single-use plastics and plastics. Reduction of waste amount. These domestic regulations could allow the bloc to lead by example.Add weight and leadership for international negotiations,” one plastics policy analyst told Bloomberg. The scale of Europe’s new rules could also have a positive impact on corporate policy. “If some big companies start changing the way they produce packaging for the EU market, they might do the same in other markets,” says the Break Free From coordinator. This was revealed by the environmental organization Plastics Europe.

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