International locations cut up on plastics treaty focus as UN talks shut By Reuters




© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A plastic bottle lies on the sand at Maccarese seashore, west of Rome, Italy November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi


By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The primary spherical of negotiations on a world plastics treaty ended on Friday with settlement to finish plastic air pollution however a cut up on whether or not objectives and efforts must be world and necessary, or voluntary and country-led.

Greater than 2,000 delegates from 160 international locations, assembly in Uruguay within the first of a deliberate 5 classes of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), intention to craft the primary legally binding settlement on plastic air pollution by the tip of 2024.

The negotiations within the coastal metropolis of Punta del Este pitted a “Excessive Ambition Coalition,” together with European Union members, towards international locations together with the US and Saudi Arabia, which have the world’s prime plastic and petrochemical corporations.

U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres, saying plastics had been “fossil fuels in one other type,” urged nations to crack down on air pollution and manufacturing.

“I name on international locations to look past waste and switch off the faucet on plastic,” he mentioned on Twitter.

United Nations members agreed in March to create the treaty to cope with the scourge of plastic waste however they differ on main points, together with whether or not to restrict plastic manufacturing, part outs varieties of plastics and harmonize world guidelines.

The Excessive Ambition Coalition of over 40 international locations, together with EU members, Switzerland, host Uruguay and Ghana, needs the treaty to be based mostly on necessary world measures, together with curbs on manufacturing.

“With out a widespread worldwide regulatory framework, we will be unable to handle the worldwide and rising problem of plastic air pollution,” Switzerland mentioned in its place assertion.

That strategy contrasts with the country-driven pledges advocated by international locations together with the US and Saudi Arabia.

“The US is dedicated to working with different governments and stakeholders all through the INC course of to develop an bold, modern and country-driven world settlement,” a U.S. State Division spokesperson mentioned in an announcement.


Washington has mentioned it needs the pact to resemble the construction of the Paris local weather settlement, in international locations set their very own greenhouse gasoline discount objectives and motion plans.

Saudi Arabia mentioned it needs a treaty targeted on plastic litter that’s constructed on “a bottom-to-top strategy and based mostly on nationwide circumstances.”

Critics say such an strategy would weaken a world treaty.

“Though within the minority, there are some highly effective opponents of world guidelines and requirements, which danger probably weakening obligations on international locations to take motion,” mentioned Eirik Lindebjerg, WWF world plastics coverage lead.

Trade representatives on the talks touted the important position of plastics in each day life, calling for the treaty to focus tackling waste relatively than measures to sap manufacturing.

“On the finish of the day, we hope the committee involves the identical conclusion we do, which is that rising recycling gives the perfect answer to decreasing plastic waste,” mentioned Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of the Plastics Trade Affiliation.

Environmental group Greenpeace mentioned that with no robust treaty, plastic manufacturing may double inside the subsequent 10 to fifteen years, and triple by 2050.

Whilst some international locations are cut up on the strategy the treaty ought to take, some observers mentioned there appears to be rising settlement that plastic air pollution is not only about waste ending up within the ocean.

“Plastics are usually not anymore being seen as only a marine litter problem. Individuals are discussing plastic as a cloth product of chemical substances,” mentioned Vito Buonsante, coverage adviser for the Worldwide Pollution Elimination Community. “There was a story shift.”

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