Countries agree on limited work plan ahead of final negotiations in November

OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHINAABEG PEOPLE — The David Suzuki Foundation attended the UN negotiations for a global plastics treaty that continued overnight as delegates struggled to agree on a work plan for the final months of the Committee’s mandate. The negotiations were scheduled to conclude yesterday on Monday, April 29.

The Foundation has been campaigning for production limits to be included in the global plastics treaty, with more than 10,000 people signing its petition to the federal government. Limiting plastic production emerged as one of the most contentious aspects of the negotiations.

The UN Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution held its fourth session (INC-4) at Ottawa’s Shaw Centre this past week. The final text of a new treaty is to be negotiated by the end of 2024.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s Sabaa Khan and Lisa Gue attended the negotiations as observers.

Lisa Gue, National Policy Manager, commented:

“While some progress was made at the negotiations in Ottawa this past week, it wasn’t enough. In the final hours of INC-4, persistent objections from several oil- and plastic-producing states scuttled a proposal for focused discussions on the key issue of limiting consumption and production of primary plastic polymers.

“We recognize the efforts of many INC-4 delegates – and Canada as host-country – to keep the negotiations on track. These efforts must continue. There’s too much at stake to fail. A credible treaty to end plastic pollution must include limits on global plastic production and consumption, restrictions on chemicals of concern and a global ban on harmful single-use plastics. Despite the objections from oil-producing countries, we call on Canada to advance these issues before the final negotiating sessions in November.”

Sabaa Khan, Climate Director and Director General of Quebec and Atlantic Canada, said:

“We all have the right to a healthy environment and that is being threatened by plastic production and consumption around the world.

“What has been clear all week is that global voices of Indigenous Peoples, hundreds of independent scientists and healthcare professionals, waste pickers, small island states and civil society organizations stand in solidarity on the need to limit plastic production and restrict chemicals of concerns. It’s a matter of ensuring environmental justice – of fighting systemic environmental racism and protecting planetary survival.

“While the primacy of public health over profit must be embedded in this treaty, petrochemical and fossil fuel interests engaged in obstructive delay, gaslighting and intimidation tactics to set the world back on solving this resounding global crisis. This flagrant conflict of interest must be dealt with in order for the negotiation process to maintain its integrity as it moves forward.

“We will closely follow intersessional work in lead-up to the final negotiations in Korea at the end of this year. While plastic polymer production could have been included in the scope of this work, as proposed by Rwanda and Peru and supported by numerous delegations, obstructive petrochemical-producing states blocked this hope.”

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BACKGROUNDER: Canada and the global plastics treaty – what’s at stake – David Suzuki Foundation