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How major oil firms will try to block the world’s first plastic pollution treaty

Global leaders are meeting this week to secure the world’s first global plastic pollution treaty, but big oil companies have major stakes in continuing to produce virgin plastics. There’s sure to be major pushback.

The fossil fuel industry is starting to lose its monopoly on the global energy sector.

Renewables are being embraced worldwide, electric vehicles are becoming cheaper, and innovation aimed at storing green power continues to find success. Knowing this, fossil fuel giants have resorted to Plan B: producing more virgin plastics to stay afloat.

With major companies investing upward of £300bn to increase their production, plastic is projected to become the sole driver of oil demand growth in the coming years.

That is unless global legal frameworks on the production of plastic are put in place to stop them. Luckily, that’s exactly what the UN Environment Assembly is aiming to achieve this week with its Global Plastic Pollution treaty.

Let’s take a look at their mission, shall we?

Meeting in Uruguay this week, delegates from around the world will be hoping to agree upon the world’s first Global Plastic Pollution Treaty (GPPT).

Thanks to growing awareness about how dangerous plastics are for the Earth and all life on it, the GPPT will be a legally binding agreement to curb plastic pollution.

With most plastics nearly impossible to recycle, 12 million tons of waste is dumped into ocean waterways each year. It’s not exactly news that this is causing major issues for the health of all marine life.

The UN approved the formation of the Global Plastic Pollution Treaty back in March of this year. After baseline talks in Kenya, leaders said the treaty would be finalised in 2024. It was celebrated as a major achievement, described as a ‘cure’ for what has become an ‘epidemic’.

It will put major restrictions on the production of plastic, causing major economic ramifications for industries and businesses that rely on its use. Economies supported by generating plastic material – America, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Japan – are sure to feel the effects.

Although many UN negotiators are highly optimistic about the willingness of world leaders to unite for the same cause, there is divisiveness reported on some elements of the final pact.

As always in the case of global agreements, some nations are reportedly more ambitious overall in finding a solution. These hesitancies are likely rooted in worries about a slump in their national GDP.

As things stand, the demand for virgin plastics is expected to peak by the year 2027.  Strategists from the think tank Carbon Tracker have said that removing plastic out of the fossil-fuel equation will eradicate the narrative that demands for oil are on the rise.

Halting plastic production would not only stop ecosystem-destroying practices like fracking and rigging, but it will also prevent harmful materials from entering ecosystems and poisoning the life within.

Not to mention, it’ll stop harmful forever chemicals from leaking into soils, waterways, and us humans. Sounds like a win-win to me. Where do we sign?