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Nations to Meet In Nairobi to Negotiate International Treaty to Battle Plastic Pollution

The international community will resume negotiations on a global plastics convention when representatives meet in Nairobi, Kenya at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in February. The negotiations received a boost in November when Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the Biden administration would join the talks, reversing the position of the Trump administration which had opposed efforts to regulate plastic manufacture and disposal.

Reuters: "The U.S., which produces more plastic waste per capita than any other country, will join talks at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in February 2022 on protecting oceans from the "growing global harms of plastic pollution", Blinken said."

We have written about the growing plastic waste problem before and researchers continue to document the harm it does to the environment.

Illuminate: "Plastic waste is everywhere on our planet now, from the deepest parts of our oceans to the tops of the highest mountains on earth. We are literally drowning in the stuff. It's polluting our oceans and rivers, filling our landfills and spoiling our beaches, and it's responsible for killing over 1 million marine animals each year including sea turtles, sharks, birds and fish. And, there is increasing evidence that it's impacting our health."
"Small pieces of plastic, called "microplastics," are now routinely found in the food we eat and the water [and beer] we drink. And they have recently been found in human placentas."

The Nairobi conference follows talks during the Summer which resulted in a statement of objectives for a future treaty to battle plastic pollution. "In September, the governments of Ecuador, Germany, Ghana and Vietnam organized an international conference on marine litter and plastic pollution. During that conference, attending delegations finalized a Ministerial Statement that called for a “Global Agreement.”
"The statement said a treaty should include “ambitious objectives, suitable indicators, and the measures necessary to achieve the elimination or minimization of all negative impacts of plastic throughout its life cycle, including the significant reduction and progressive elimination of direct and indirect discharges of plastic into the environment, sustainable alternatives and the reduction of virgin plastic production.”

So far, 70 nations have endorsed the Ministerial Statement and Blinken has signaled that the US will support an international convention incorporating those principals. He also noted that the US Congress has taken some initial steps to address the growing problem.

Climate News: "And Congress in November authorized $350 million for recycling and management of plastic waste, including the first funding for the 2020 Save Our Seas 2.0 Act to boost research, international cooperation, ocean cleanup and waste management."

The main tension to be addressed in Nairobi concerns how far the delegates will go to regulate plastic production. Some nation's, including Japan, want to focus on plastic waste disposal. Others, including the environmental organizations that will send representatives and the European Union, are calling for a ban on the sale of single-use plastics, enforceable national limits on the flow of plastics into oceans from rivers and streams, and regulations to ban the use of toxic chemicals in the manufacture of plastic.

So far, it appears that the Biden administration will support a more comprehensive international agreement, but the plastics and chemical industries allied with Republicans in Congress have already signaled that they will work to derail efforts to enforce any such treaty in the United States. So, in the end, any real progress to reduce plastic waste in America will depend on our domestic politics at the state and federal levels.

#environment #news

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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