It is expected that more than 100 countries, which will gather in Nairobi next week, will take the first steps towards a historic global agreement to combat the plastic crisis afflicting the planet.
Plastic has been found in Arctic sea ice, whale bellies and the Earth’s atmosphere, and governments are under increasing pressure to unite in action against the global scourge.
Negotiators are pushing the framework for legally binding plastic a treaty that diplomats consider the most ambitious environmental deal since the 2015 Paris Agreement. climate change.
“This is a big moment. This is a moment for history textbooks,” Inger Andersen, head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), told AFP this week.
The exact scope of the agreement has yet to be determined. Ahead of the three-day UN summit, which begins Monday in Nairobi, there are competing proposals.
World leaders and environment ministers will meet in person and are expected to begin the treaty process, appointing a negotiating committee to finalize policy details over the next two years.
But more than 50 countries, as well as scientists, businesses and environmental groups have publicly called for new tough regulations in the industry to curb the flow of plastic entering the environment.
This could include restrictions on the production of new plastics made from oil and gas, and is projected to double by 2040, recycling products to make recycling easier or less harmful, and phasing out disposable goods.
“Agreement with the teeth”
Many countries, including major plastic producers such as the United States and China, have expressed general support for the treaty but have not approved any specific measures.
But there is broad consensus that countries acting alone cannot solve the problem, and a coordinated global response is needed.
Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than any other material, well ahead of national conservation efforts environment clean.
Today, about 300 million tons of plastic waste are generated annually – equivalent to the weight of the human population.
Less than 10 percent is recycled, most of it ends up in landfills or oceans.
According to some estimates, a plastic garbage truck is dumped into the sea every minute, suffocating marine populations and polluting coastlines around the globe. Microscopic plastic particles can also get in food chaineventually joining the human diet.
“It’s not something that stops at the border. As we know from plastic in the ocean … your garbage becomes my garbage and my garbage becomes yours,” Andersen said.
In October, dozens of major corporations, including Coca-Cola and Unilever, said the Mandatory Plastics Agreement was “critical to setting high common standards of action for all countries.”
Environmental groups remain vigilant and want specific goals and performance mechanisms to be held accountable in any treaty.
“We look at what is legally binding and has implications, not just a contract that people can sign … but it doesn’t have the teeth to bite off,” said Erastus Ooko of Greenpeace Africa.
“Ready for change”
Some of the world’s largest plastics manufacturers have also expressed support for the deal, but say banning certain materials will disrupt supply chains and hinder improved recycling.
Environmental groups warn that the plastic giants will try to divert talks in Nairobi from firm commitments aimed at pushing companies to produce less plastic.
Two of contract The proposals take a “source-to-sea” approach: focusing not only on debris in the oceans and landfills, but also on pollution caused by the production of new plastic from fossil fuels.
The proposals, one sponsored by Rwanda and Peru and the other sponsored by Japan, are widely supported and united to reach a consensus, sources familiar with the Nairobi talks said.
India’s third proposal – which called for voluntary action – lacks widespread support.
“I think the world is ready for a change in our attitude towards plastic,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF’s director general.
© 2022 AFP
Citation: UN to agree plan for agreement on “historic” plastics (2022, February 26) received on February 26, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-historic-plastics-treaty.html
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