World News

Talks advance on a treaty to end plastic pollution

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Nations made progress on a treaty to end plastic pollution as their fourth round of negotiations concluded early Tuesday in Canada.

For the first time in the process, negotiators discussed the text of what is intended to become a global treaty. Delegates and observers to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution called it a welcome sign that discussions have moved from ideas to treaty language in this fourth of five planned meetings.

The most controversial is the idea of ​​limiting the amount of plastic produced. This remains in the text despite strong objections from plastic-producing countries and companies and oil and gas exporters. Most plastic is made from fossil fuels and chemicals.

As the Ottawa session completed, the committee agreed to continue working on the treaty before its final meeting later this year in South Korea.

Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program Inger Andersen and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault take their seats during a news conference on April 23, 2024 in Ottawa, Ontario . (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

Preparations for this session will focus on how to finance treaty implementation, assess chemicals of concern in plastic products, and review product design. Rwanda’s representative said he had ignored the elephant in the room by not addressing plastic production.

“At the end of the day, it’s not just about the text, it’s not just about the process,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, executive secretary of the committee. “It’s quite simply about offering a better future to generations and our loved ones. This is multilateralism at its best, and we can and will succeed.”

Stewart Harris, an industry spokesperson with the International Council of Chemical Associations, said members want a treaty focused on plastic recycling and reuse, sometimes called “circularity.”

They do not want a cap on plastic production and believe chemicals should not be regulated by this agreement. Harris said the association was pleased to see governments come together and agree to do additional work, including on financing and design of plastic products.

Dozens of scientists from the Coalition of Scientists for an Effective Plastics Treaty came to the meeting to provide negotiators with scientific evidence on plastic pollution, in part, they said, to dispel misinformation.

“I heard yesterday that there is no data on microplastics, which is blatantly false: 21,000 publications on micro and nanoplastics have been published,” said Bethanie Carney Almroth, professor of ecotoxicology at the Swedish University of Gothenburg and co-leads the coalition. “It’s like Whac-A-Mole.”

FILE - A sign sits amid plastic on a public art installation outside a United Nations conference on plastics April 23, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario.  (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

A sign sits amid plastic on a public art installation outside a United Nations conference on plastics on April 23, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

She said scientists were harassed and intimidated by lobbyists and she reported to the UN that a lobbyist shouted in her face during a meeting.

Despite their differences, the countries represented share a common vision for moving forward in the treaty process, said Ecuador’s chief negotiator Walter Schuldt.

“Because ultimately we’re talking about the survival of the future of life, not just human life but all kinds of life on this planet,” he said in an interview.

He said he was proud to participate, to bring his “grain of sand” to global action aimed at tackling an environmental crisis.

Treaty negotiations began in Uruguay in December 2022 after Rwanda and Peru proposed the resolution that launched the process in March 2022. Progress has been slow during this period. Paris talks in May 2023 and in Nairobi in November as countries debated the rules of the process.

When thousands of negotiators and observers arrived in Ottawa, Luis Vayas Valdivieso, president of the Ecuadorian committee, reminded them of their goal of creating a future without plastic pollution. He asked them to be ambitious.

Delegates discussed not only the scope of the treaty, but also chemicals of concern, problematic and avoidable plastics, product design, and their financing and implementation.

FILE - Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault looks at the chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, Ambassador Luis Vayas Valdivieso, during a press conference, April 23, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario.  (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault looks at the chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, Ambassador Luis Vayas Valdivieso, during a news conference, April 23, 2024, in Ottawa, Ontario. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

Delegates also streamlined the cumbersome set of options that emerged from the last meeting.

“We have taken a big step forward after two years of many discussions. We now have a text to negotiate,” said Björn Beeler, international coordinator of the International Pollutant Elimination Network. “Unfortunately, it will take much more political will to confront the uncontrolled escalation of plastic production.”

Many came to Ottawa from communities affected by plastic manufacturing and pollution. Residents of Louisiana and Texas who live near petrochemical plants and refineries distributed postcards addressed to the U.S. State Department saying, “I wish you were here.”

They traveled together as a group in the Break Free From Plastic movement and asked negotiators to travel to their states to see air and water pollution for themselves.

“It’s still the best option we have to see change in our communities. They are so captured by corporations. I can’t go to parish government,” said Jo Banner of St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana. “I feel like this is the only chance and hope I have to help my community recover from this situation, to heal. »

Members of an indigenous peoples group held a news conference Saturday to say microplastics are contaminating their food supplies and that pollution threatens their communities and their guaranteed way of life in perpetuity. They felt like their voices were not being heard.

“We have bigger things at stake. It is our ancestral lands that are polluted by plastic,” said Juressa Lee from New Zealand after the event. “We are rights holders, not stakeholders. We should have more space to talk and make decisions than the people who caused the problem.

In the Bay of Plenty, a source of seafood on New Zealand’s north coast, sediments and shells are filled with tiny plastic particles. They view nature’s “resources” as treasures, Lee added.

“Indigenous methods can lead the way,” Lee said. “What we are doing now is clearly not working.”

Vi Waghiyi came from Alaska to represent the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. She reminds decision-makers that this treaty must protect populations from plastic pollution for generations to come.

She said: “We come here to be the conscience, to make sure they make the right decision for everyone. »

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from several private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP standards to work with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas on AP.org.

News Source : apnews.com
Gn world

jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button