EU and India build further bonds via plastics

EU and India build further bonds via plastics
A man walks on a garbage-strewn beach in Mumbai, India. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year with the amount expected to nearly triple by 2040. Courtesy: Reuters

The EU is planning to ask India for its support in signing a global treaty against plastic pollution.

Plastic has penetrated daily life deep and fast. Today. You’d be hard pressed to spend a day in daily life without using plastic. From credit cards to coffee cup lids - plastic is everywhere. It is also in our oceans and now in our food chain.

An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year with the amount expected to nearly triple by 2040 to 29 million metric tons according to the National Geographic.

According to Ocean Crusaders, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans. 269,000 tons float, 4 billion microfibres per km² dwell below the surface.The charity estimates that shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year. This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth.And the number is rising. In a now seminal video filmed by Dr Richard Kirby, a scientist showed the moment plastic microfibre is ingested by plankton, illustrating how the material has entered our food chain.

There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans. 269,000 tons float, 4 billion microfibres per km² dwell below the surface.
There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste estimated to be in our oceans. 269,000 tons float, 4 billion microfibres per km² dwell below the surface.Courtesy: University of Exeter

Steps to curb plastic

With a growing awareness towards sustainability and combatting climate change, many countries are now seeking to put a curb on plastic permanently. The EU, Rwanda and Peru are among those pushing for a legally binding international treaty to stem the flow of plastic pollution piling up in the world's oceans and natural habitats.

In another path breaking gesture towards the war on plastics, the EU has decided to ask India to join its push for a global treaty on plastic pollution, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

The draft statement, which must be signed off by EU ambassadors and needs New Delhi's final approval, said: "The EU invited India to consider endorsing the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and effective engagement with like-minded countries on negotiations on a Global Plastics Agreement."

The aim is to win support ahead of a UN meeting in February 2022 which could launch negotiations on the agreement, paving pave the way for a deal akin to the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which nearly 200 countries committed to avoid dangerous climate change.

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.  The EU is planning on asking India to support its global treaty against plastic pollution.
European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The EU is planning on asking India to support its global treaty against plastic pollution.Courtesy: Reuters

At the virtual summit on Saturday, both sides are expected to pledge to increase cooperation to limit climate change, part of a wider bilateral agenda that the EU hopes will include closer trade ties and ways to counter China's rise.

The draft statement said the EU and India would hold regular meetings to increase collaboration in areas including renewable energy, energy storage technology, and modernising power grids.

India aims to have 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, roughly five times the 93GW it has today.

The draft summit statement said the European Investment Bank and EU countries' development banks were increasing financial support to India for climate-related issues, for example in areas such as renewable energy and green transport.

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