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EU joins call for ambitious global agreement to end plastic pollution by 2040

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The EU is today joining the “High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution”, confirming its commitment to aim high in the intergovernmental negotiations for a global agreement to end plastic pollution by 2040. In the negotiations the EU will be pushing for a legally binding instrumentensuring urgent action, while applying a circular approach to plastics.

The High Ambition Coalition, co-chaired by Norway and Rwanda, brings together like-minded countries, advocating ambitious goals for the new legally binding instrument to tackle the growing amount of plastic waste choking our planet. The negotiations on the new treaty are starting in Uruguay on 28 November 2022 and are set to be completed by 2025.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans got:

Ever since the European plastic strategy was presented in 2018, the European Union has been a driving force to tackle plastic pollution. We are determined to keep pushing for ambitious action across the world, as the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises must involve all of us. Together with the members of this High Ambition Coalition, the EU will work to get a solid, global plan to end plastic pollution.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries in Virginia Sinkevičius got:

Plastic pollution is a global problem that needs global solutions. In the EU, we continuously enhance our efforts and improve our legislation to reduce plastic litter. By joining the High Ambition Coalition to end plastic pollution, we are not only showing commitment, but also readiness to lead by example.

Plastics are important materials for our economy and daily lives. However, their exponential growth in the last decades is having serious negative effects on the environment and human health. Of the seven billion tons of plastic waste generated globally so far, less than 10 percent has been recycled. Millions of tons of plastic waste are lost to the environment, or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometers to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped.

The adoption of a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution is a key priority of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan under the European Green Deal. The global community achieved a big milestone during the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, when countries agreed to start negotiations for the new instrument. The EU and its Member States believe that the new instrument should include the necessary obligations enabling countries to step up actions to prevent plastics from entering the environment. A circular approach looking at the entire plastics life cycle will be key for the change needed.

Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway and Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, Espen BarthEve welcomed the news about the EU joining the community:

The European Union has been a longstanding partner and a leading force in combating plastic pollution. I am strongly encouraged to see the EU continuing this role and joining the High Ambition Coalition’s work for a truly effective global treaty that will establish common global rules, turn off the tap and end plastic pollution by 2040.

Minister of Environment of Rwanda and Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, Dr. Joan of Arc Mujawamariya received:

With the EU joining, the High Ambition Coalition now has members from all regions of the world representing more than a quarter of UN member states and 50 countries. We look forward to working with the EU to reach a comprehensive and ambitious treaty to end plastic pollution by 2040.

Background

The Coalition’s membership is now covering all regions of the world and almost one third UN Member States. In addition to bringing together countries with similar visions regarding plastic pollution, this coalition will work on more science-based objectives to inform the intergovernmental negotiations.

To date, the following countries have committed by joining the coalition, in addition to the European Union: Rwanda, Norway, Canada, Peru, Germany, Senegal, Georgia, Republic of Korea, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Iceland, Ecuador, France, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Ghana, Monaco, Slovenia, the United Arab Emirates, Republic of Ireland, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cabo Verde, Burkina Faso, Australia, Azerbaijan and Colombia.

In line with existing EU policy in the area, including the European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan and a significant number of EU policies and legislation on the protection of the marine and coastal environment, the EU is taking action to tackle plastic pollution and marine litter to accelerate the transition to a circular and resource-efficient plastics economy in Europe. Specific rules and targets apply to certain areas, including single-use plastics, plastic packaging, microplastics, and soon bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics. The EU has played a key role throughout the years on the international scene, working with partners and advocating for a legally binding global agreement on plastics. Joining the HAC is a further step in this direction ahead of the start of the negotiations.

More information

High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution

The EU’s work on Plastic pollution

Plastic pollution UNEA resolution

Landmark global agreement on plastic pollution (europa.eu)

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