Government delegations will convene in Nairobi, Kenya, to work out the kinks in what has the potential to be the first international agreement of its kind to address the problem of plastic pollution.
The question of whether or not targets to restrict plastic production should be determined unilaterally or whether or not nations should choose their own targets will be a main focus of the negotiations that will take place on Monday. Environmentalists refer to this question as the “centre of gravity” for the treaty’s ambitious goals.
During the most recent round of negotiations, which took place in Paris in the month of May and were led by the international negotiating committee (INC), the United States, Saudi Arabia, India, and China advocated for a “Paris-style” agreement in which states would have the freedom to determine their own commitments. On the other hand, many developing countries and Africa favored strong global commitments.
But there are signals, according to some analysts, of a shift in the United States’ posture on this significant subject, though details have yet to surface. According to Graham Forbes, who is in charge of the global plastics campaign for Greenpeace USA, “the main takeaway for many environmental groups after INC2 [the negotiations in Paris] was how bad the US position was in terms of Paris-style voluntary commitments.” [Citation needed] “The US position was particularly bad in terms of Paris-style voluntary commitments.” He stated that there had been indications that the dynamic was changing.
“That is something that we are going to be keeping a very close eye on to see how it develops. It is imperative that we have a conversation about instituting laws and setting up regulations.
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (INC) released a “zero draft” version of the text that would serve as the basis for negotiations over what the head of the United Nations Environment Programme has called as the most important multilateral pact since the Paris accord in 2015. This version of the text was published by the INC last month. The conclusion of formal negotiations on a treaty is targeted by the end of the year 2024. The midway point will be reached at the third round of discussions, which will take place in Kenya from November 13-17.
The so-called “zero draft” incorporates a wide variety of points of view from a variety of administrations. In the portion of the draft that discusses the manufacturing of virgin plastic, there is a breakdown of three different strategies for bringing about a reduction in the use of primary plastic. The first approach would include reaching an internationally agreed-upon target for reduction (in a manner analogous to the Montreal Protocol). The second proposal calls for setting global targets for output reduction and imposing limits that are decided at the country level, much like the Paris agreement. The third strategy employs limitations and goals established at the national level.
Tim Grabiel, a senior lawyer with the Environmental Investigations Agency, stated that the agency was aiming for a solution that was somewhere in the middle of options one and two: Grabiel is quoted as saying that “it is generally agreed that the Montreal Protocol is the best multilateral environmental agreement in the world.” And as a result of the agreement reached in Paris, we are aware that option number two is not viable. If you take a look at the worldwide stock-take, you’ll notice that this summer was the warmest on record. However, next summer is forecast to be coldest summer ever for rest of our lives, so it’s becoming obvious that the Paris agreement has some serious flaws.
This is the center of gravity for ambition, and next week we will find out which countries fall where on the spectrum. On the other hand, he admitted that “the geopolitics are very difficult on this issue.” The major petrochemical and chemical corporations have shown no sign of budging at all.
According to a research published in 2022 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the rate of accumulation of garbage made of plastic is increasing and is expected to nearly quadruple by the year 2060. Approximately half of this waste will be disposed of in landfills, and less than one fifth will be recycled.
In order to maintain greenhouse gas emissions at a level that is compatible with a 1.5C scenario, Greenpeace is advocating for a decrease in plastic production of at least 75% by the year 2040.
According to Eirik Lindebjerg, the global plastics policy lead at WWF, the “zero draft” has some “good concrete measures” that could make a difference, as well as some imprecise, voluntary, and non-binding terms. He noted that the “zero draft” contains all of these aspects. According to him, one of the most important things that it does is pave the way for future discourse on global restrictions that may be expanded upon.
“Despite the setbacks, I’m very encouraged that a clear majority of countries have stated in the process that they want a strong treaty with binding rules and that they have proposed a global basis for phase-outs of materials,” said Lindebjerg. “Despite the setbacks, I’m very encouraged that a clear majority of countries have stated in the process that they want a strong treaty with binding rules.”
He stated, “There are large economic interests vested in keeping the status quo,” which literally means “invested in maintaining the current situation.” “However, you also have a loud public uproar and significant public pressure working against those interests. We will find out in the end who comes out on top.”
This month, the sixty ministers who make up High Ambition Coalition that End Plastic Pollution also stated in a joint statement in which they reaffirmed their dedication to eliminating plastic waste by the year 2040 and their support for a treaty based on the complete life cycle of plastics. They voiced their “deep concern” on the projections of a near-doubling of improperly managed plastic trash and an increase in production, both of which would lead to a 60% rise in greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic system.