Posted in | News | Pollution

Researchers Lay Out How to End Global Plastics Crisis and Tackle Climate Crisis on Eve of UN Plastics Treaty

Next week, negotiators from 175 countries will gather in Ottawa, Canada for the last major round of UN plastics treaty negotiations (April 23-29) before the treaty is finalized — expected in late 2024 in Busan, Korea.

Researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara attending the upcoming negotiations in Ottawa are available to:

  • Explain how the U.S. has blocked progress on the negotiations despite President Joe Biden’s commitment to safeguarding nature, tackling the climate crisis, and ensuring environmental justice;
  • Lay out the top policies negotiators must include in the treaty to stymie a projected explosion of plastic pollution in the coming decades;
  • Discuss the role that the plastic treaty can play in tackling the climate crisis;
    • Recent research shows that a comprehensive and ambitious plastics treaty could reduce emissions equivalent to taking 168 million cars off the road each year, or approximately equivalent to the carbon footprint of the global aviation sector.
  • Highlight the importance of addressing the disparate impacts of the pollution crisis on the Global North and South and opportunities to mobilize financing; and
  • Offer a play-by-play before, during or after the negotiations of what went on in Ottawa.  

Many of their insights are based on an AI-generated data tool they developed, which was recently updated to include the impact of specific plastics policies on the climate crisis. The plastics treaty negotiations will coincide with Earth Day, April 22, which is being hosted under the theme “Planet vs. Plastics.” 


Dr. Douglas McCauley, Professor, UC Santa Barbara, Adjunct Professor, UC Berkeley, said: “President Biden’s commitment to support the environment, climate action, and environmental justice has been very clear. So it’s perplexing that he has shown a lack of leadership on ending plastic pollution in the UN Treaty, which would tackle all three of these fronts. What’s more significant is that addressing plastic pollution is a bipartisan environmental issue: Eight in ten Americans have expressed concern about plastic pollution and called for action.”

Dr. Roland Geyer, Professor of Industrial Ecology, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara said: “The solution to tackling plastic pollution is obvious — make less plastic and reuse and recycle more. But in a world drowned in so much plastic, finding a way out of the trash on the global, national or even local level is daunting. That’s why data is so useful in clearing through the clutter. Our tool clearly shows that there are five relatively simple and straightforward policies the UN plastics treaty can enshrine that will have real impact.” 

Dr. Nivedita Biyani, Researcher on Global Plastic Modeling, Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, UC Santa Barbara said: “It is possible to decrease plastic pollution and its associated GHG emissions to near zero by 2050 with the right policy instruments. The research shows that packaging, textile and construction are the biggest consumers of plastic as a raw material under a business-as-usual scenario. The biggest policy levers we can pull are investing in collection and recycling, along with mandating a minimum recycling content percentage to make a dent in the curve."

Neil Nathan, Project Scientist, Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, UC Santa Barbara said: “Today, a mountain of plastic pollution is choking our rivers and oceans, essential for a healthy planet. The plastics industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than either the global aviation sector or marine shipping. This treaty presents a monumental opportunity in a time of urgency to not only reduce our dependence on plastic but also to take another step toward our collective climate goals. Legally binding and specific measures are necessary to avoid a watered-down agreement that fails to meet the moment.”

WHEN: Experts are available before, during and after the negotiations in Ottawa, Canada. 


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.