UN plastics conference in Paris reports success

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An international agreement to curb plastic waste is drawing near. In the second round of negotiations in Paris, a good 170 countries agreed on a procedure for the next conference in November.

Collection of plastic waste off the coast of Indonesia (2022)

Progress has been made in drafting an international agreement to reduce plastic waste. Representatives from around 170 countries negotiated in the French capital for five days. It was the second of five United Nations advisory rounds. The resolution published at the end of the Paris talks states that the negotiating committee is asking its chairman Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez to “draft out the first version of the legally binding international treaty”.

This draft should to be discussed at the third round of consultations in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in November. Negotiations are then scheduled to continue in Canada in April 2024 and finally to be concluded in South Korea at the end of 2024.

Committee President Meza-Cuadra Velásquez

Delegates on Friday responded with applause as Committee President Meza-Cuadra Velásquez approved the text of the resolution. The French Environment Minister Christophe Béchu had already called for the negotiations to continue quickly before the conclusion of the consultation round. These must “continue non-stop until the next meeting in Nairobi, so that we can maintain the pressure and achieve the 2024 goal”.

Criticism from Greenpeace

For environmentalists, what has been achieved does not go far enough. “In the end, they were only able to agree on a minimal compromise, and all difficult negotiations were postponed again after endless delaying tactics by the plastic lobby,” said Viola Wohlgemuth, an expert on resource protection at Greenpeace. Saudi Arabia, China and the USA in particular have worked together with the petrochemical industry to undermine an effective global agreement.

The agreement aims to curb plastic production on the one hand and improve disposal and recycling on the other become. Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and India want to prevent the future contract from being accepted with a two-thirds majority.

Germany wants to promote reusable solutions

Germany's Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) pushed on the sidelines of the negotiations for global cuts in the use of plastic. “We cannot solve the plastic problem with recycling alone,” she told Second German Television. It is too big for that.

Lemke announced an amendment to the packaging law in Germany for June. This is intended to promote reusable solutions and reduce the amount of waste overall. Although there is a relatively good waste separation system in Germany, the country still needs to improve. “We are lagging behind. We have a very high volume of waste,” emphasized the minister.

Conference participants in Paris : Five days of negotiations

According to the UN, plastic pollution is increasing rapidly. Without countermeasures, the amount of plastic waste in the oceans and other bodies of water could more than double from around nine to 14 million tons a year in 2016 to an estimated 23 to 37 million tons a year by 2040.

AR /jj (dpa, afp)