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UN global plastics treaty in sight

03 May 2024

Alamy

A protest march in Ottowa, Canada, last week

A protest march in Ottowa, Canada, last week

NEGOTIATIONS for a global plastics treaty were said to be on a “knife edge”, as the penultimate round of talks at the United Nations ended in Ottawa this week.

Delegates have made a commitment to working together on remaining issues in the run-up to the final round of talks in November, in South Korea.

Tearfund, which is campaigning for a global treaty (News, 19 April), sent a delegation to the conference, including representatives from communities most affected by plastic pollution.

Richard Gower, who co-leads Tearfund’s policy and advocacy work on plastics and waste, said: “An ambitious and effective treaty is still possible, but negotiations are on a knife edge: time is short, and strong opposition remains from the petrochemicals industry and states connected with it, even as their products pile up on street corners and in water courses around the world.

“The global plastics crisis demands a strong treaty, and negotiators owe affected communities every effort to deliver it. This will require commitment and creativity, as negotiations continue before the final meeting in Busan, South Korea.”

The 66 nations, calling themselves the High Ambition Coalition — which includes the EU and the UK — are pushing for bold limits on plastic production, but the United States and other oil-producing nations, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, are resisting the inclusion of production controls in any treaty.

Among the thousands of delegates who attended the Ottawa conference were many lobbyists for the fuel and chemical industries.

A global plastics treaty would be the most significant deal relating to emissions and environmental protection since the 2015 Paris Agreement, activists said.

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