Advancing Towards a Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution

Image showing delegates discussing the draft of the Global Plastics Treaty during the INC-4 meeting in Ottawa, Canada
Advancing Towards a Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) to develop an international legally binding treaty on plastic pollution began in Ottawa, Canada. This session aims to refine the draft agreement, with the goal of finalizing the treaty at the fifth session (INC-5) in November 2024.

In March 2022, the UN Environment Assembly adopted a groundbreaking resolution to create a global treaty on plastic pollution. The treaty's objective is to address the entire life cycle of plastic, including its production, design, and disposal.

The INC began its work in late 2022, with the ambition of completing negotiations by the end of 2024. Previous sessions were held in Uruguay (INC-1), France (INC-2), and Kenya (INC-3).

Key Issues and Diverging Views:

  • Eliminating problematic and avoidable plastic uses, particularly single-use plastics.
  • Balancing the reduction of plastic production with a focus on waste management.
  • Requiring companies to disclose plastic production volumes and chemicals used.
  • Including binding targets and banning certain chemicals in the treaty.
  • Facing opposition from the petrochemical industry and some oil/gas producing nations regarding limits on production.

Progress and Next Steps:

  • Increasing consensus on phasing out unnecessary single-use plastics.
  • Recognizing the need for plastics in specific essential uses, such as renewable energy.
  • INC-4 will decide on the intersessional work needed before INC-5 to further develop the treaty text.
  • INC-5 is scheduled to take place in Busan, South Korea, in November-December 2024, intended to conclude the negotiation process.
  • This will be followed by a Diplomatic Conference for Heads of State to sign the agreement.

About the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee:

The INC-4 meeting in Ottawa marks a critical step in the development of a landmark global treaty to address the escalating crisis of plastic pollution. While there is emerging consensus on reducing single-use plastics, divergences remain on production cuts and binding targets. The negotiations in Ottawa will shape the contours of the final agreement, which has the potential to be a watershed moment for sustainability and environmental action.

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