International negotiators at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have agreed to develop a legally binding treaty to cut pollution from plastics, a product that causes climate pollution at every stage of its life cycle. The plastic industry emitted 1.3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution in 2020, twice as much as Canada. A draft of the international treaty will be prepared before the next session of the UNEP in November, and a coalition of “high-ambition” governments are pushing to end plastic pollution altogether by 2040 through cutting production and limiting what chemicals can be used in plastic production.
“It’s not just a plastics crisis; it’s a climate crisis,” Kristen McDonald, a senior director at Pacific Environment told Grist. “Everyone should be coming away from the global plastics treaty table this week understanding that.” Countries with powerful fossil fuel interests – including the US – are lobbying for more plastic recycling instead of production limits. A new report from Pacific Environment finds that plastic production must be cut 75 percent by 2050 to achieve the Paris accord climate goals. (Grist, AP, The Hill, Reuters, Times of India, Financial Times $)