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Opinion | At treaty talks, geopolitical theater for a polluted material world

A handful of fossil fuel producers show no interest in a strong, restrictive and legally binding instrument for plastic pollution.

OIl and gas producers view plastics as a corporate "Plan B."
OIl and gas producers view plastics as a corporate "Plan B." (AN/Naja Bertolt Jensen/Unsplash)

GENEVA — Between the third round of talks toward a Global Plastics Treaty in Nairobi earlier this month and the COP28 climate talks that are kicking off this week in Dubai, the future health of our planet is strongly at risk of being hijacked by a powerful but minority lobby of Big Oil interests.

But it's not over yet. The final two rounds of stalemated talks on the plastics treaty will be hosted by Canada in April and by South Korea in November. The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly called for negotiators to craft a legally binding instrument by the end of 2024 that deals with the full life cycle of plastics. A diplomatic conference is expected to be held in 2025 for U.N. member nations to adopt the instrument and open it for signature.

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