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UK supports global action on plastic waste

20 November 2020

Minister for Pacific and the Environment Lord Goldsmith has pledged support for a United Nations (UN) treaty for international action to reduce plastic waste.

He said this should extend "far beyond" existing international agreements and prevent issues such as the predicted trebling of plastic waste in the ocean by 2025, according to The Guardian.

Lord Goldsmith suggested the agreement could be similar to the Paris agreement, which was formed to tackle the climate change crisis, or the Montreal protocol, established to tackle ozone depletion.

The UK is one of the leading per capita producers of plastic waste, second only to the US, and its involvement is therefore seen as crucial.

"The challenge we face is immense and urgent," said Lord Goldsmith. "We believe it's time to negotiate a new global agreement to coordinate action on marine plastic litter and microplastic, one that goes far beyond existing frameworks."

He further stated that two-thirds of UN members were already "on board", providing the opportunity to "create an unstoppable momentum to tackle plastic pollution".

"I hope many, many other nations will join us as well," he said.

This is likely to be a major topic within the UK-hosted Cop26 summit, rescheduled for next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move to tackle plastic waste will also align with the pledge for nature signed by 64 countries in September.

Recent discussions by the UN on plastic have raised questions as to whether an agreement should focus on marine plastic litter or plastics pollution in general and whether it should be legally binding.

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