G20: agreement on plastic pollution of marine environments

The G20 countries reached an agreement to reduce marine plastic waste at a meeting in Japan on Sunday, where they also discussed the attack on oil ships in the Gulf of Oman.

According to this agreement, G20 members committed to reducing plastic waste but gave little details on how to do it.

“It's great that we have been able to create rules for everyone, including emerging and developing countries,” said Japan's Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada after a two-day meeting G20 environment ministers.

The measures would be voluntary and progress would be published once a year, according to local media.

Plastic pollution has become a global concern, especially since bans by China and other countries to import plastic waste from other nations.

Many countries including Japan, have since faced an accumulation of this waste on their territory.

One of the main concerns is the issue of microplastics, these pieces of degraded plastics, some not reaching five millimeters, very difficult to collect. They tend to absorb dangerous chemicals and accumulate in the body fish, birds and other animals.

The agreement is the first international framework to reduce marine plastic pollution.

This is “a first step to solve this problem,” said Hiroaki Odachi, Greenpeace Japan, in a statement, stressing however that it is “insufficient to rely on the voluntary actions of countries” to resolve this crisis.

“Binding international rules with clear timetables and objectives” are needed, like those of the Paris climate agreement, he added.

Given that only 9% of plastics produced are recycled, environmental advocates claim that the only long-term solution would be for companies to manufacture less and consumers to use less.

Japan's Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, who is co-chairing talks with Harada, said Saturday that Japan will ask companies to charge for disposable plastic bags by April, a measure that has already been adopted by the government. several countries, some of which France has banned them.

Seko also pointed out that Tokyo “was worrying about attacks on oil tankers”.

“From the point of view of global energy security, it is necessary for the international community to react jointly to these acts,” he concluded at the meeting.

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