Carmichael welcomes UN agreement to seek plastic pollution treaty

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has welcomed news this evening (Wednesday) that 175 countries have agreed to negotiate a new legally-binding treaty to end plastic pollution in a move hailed by environmental campaigners. Representatives at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi endorsed a resolution to end plastic pollution and draw up an international legally binding agreement by 2024. Negotiation efforts will begin this year, and the treaty is expected to tackle plastic through its life cycle, including its production, design and disposal.

Plastic production has soared from two million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, and is expected to further double by 2040. An estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic make their way to the ocean each year, with some estimates that this figure may triple by 2040.

Mr Carmichael has continued to press for his Plastic Pollution Bill in the UK Parliament, which would set binding targets for the reduction of plastic pollution, and called for the government to take up the challenge by adopting his bill as government policy.

Graham Forbes, global plastic project lead at Greenpeace USA, said:

“This is a clear acknowledgment that the entire lifecycle of plastic, from fossil fuel extraction to disposal, creates pollution that is harmful to people and the planet.

“This is a big step that will keep the pressure on big oil and big brands to reduce their plastic footprint and switch their business models to refill and reuse.”

Mr Carmichael said:

“While we shall have to see how progress on a binding treaty is made in the coming months – and which countries do or do not live up to their obligations – this is encouraging news on the scourge of plastic pollution.

“I have said before that while there is much we can do individually and as individual governments, the issue of plastic pollution – like all pollution – is a global one, which requires global commitments to tackle it. That is particularly true of the growing challenge of plastic pollution in our water. The sea connects us all, as anyone who finds the detritus of fishing nets and foreign packaging on our shores in the isles can attest.

“Progress on international treaties is inevitably slow and steady – that is the way of these things – but our government could lead the way here and now. My Plastic Pollution Bill is ready in Parliament with binding targets to cut plastic pollution in our country. If the government is willing I would be perfectly happy for them to take it up and enact it at pace.”

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