The international community committed to “significantly reducing” the use of single-use plastic by 2030 on Friday. Environmental activists have said this won’t be enough to solve the world’s pollution problem.
After long discussions in Nairobi, the 170 countries in the UN Environmental assembly agreed to reduce the use of plastic packaging, cups and cutlery. These items make up the majority of the eight million tonnes of plastic that ends up in our oceans every year.
The final agreement only makes two references to global warming and does not even mention fossil fuels, which are considered the main cause. Friday saw tens of thousands of young people all over the world demonstrate for action against climate change.
The agreement says the countries involved are committed to “tackling the damage the unsustainable disposal and use of plastic products does to our ecosystems and significantly reduce the use of single-use plastics by 2030”.
Sources close to the discussions told AFP that several developed countries, including the United States, applied pressured to insure the UN would settle on less ambitious targets than previously thought. A motion submitted to the assembly at the beginning of the week talked about “taking measures to scrap single-use plastic by 2025”.
The UN said that a quarter of early deaths and illnesses are caused by pollution and damage to the environment caused by humans. It published a report on our planet’s condition on Wednesday.
The UN has also launched a program to combat climate change, but unlike them the UN Environment assembly cannot force countries to respect its decisions.