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Rubbish HAC

Is this the year that makes or breaks the plastics treaty?

Will we see the change we need from the next two rounds of the UN plastic treaty talks? The pressure is rising …

Throughout 2023, more than 150 countries have been gathering to negotiate a global plastics treaty. This work will continue in 2024 and, with just weeks to go until the next round of talks, we ask: where have we seen progress, how are some countries resisting meaningful action, and what can you do to help?

When the first draft of the treaty was released before the third round of negotiations (INC-3) in November 2023, it was encouraging to see that all of our key asks remained as options. However, with progress repeatedly delayed, they remain just that – options. We need to continue pushing for them to be included in the final treaty text if it really is going to tackle the impacts of plastic pollution on those living in poverty.

Coordinated resistance

At INC-3 in Nairobi, we saw a well coordinated attempt to block progress towards a strong, legally binding plastics treaty. A new coalition of fossil fuel- and plastic-producing countries were able to prevent an updated draft treaty being prepared, and to block plans for further formal work to take place before the next round of talks. Without this work, the chances of a strong plastics treaty grow slimmer.

There is a real risk that this coalition of ‘low ambition’ countries will continue their efforts to resist a strong plastics treaty. Ultimately, we could see time run out on the talks this year and either countries could agree to a treaty that doesn’t actually fix the problem, or they could fail to agree on a treaty at all. With up to a million people dying each year because of mismanaged waste, we can’t afford to let this happen.

The High Ambition Coalition

The good news is that there’s an alternative answer to this group of resistant countries: the High Ambition Coalition, which formed at the very beginning of the treaty process. This coalition is a group of 64 nations, including Australia, that are committed to restraining plastic production, protecting the environment and human health, and increasing access to recycling and waste management.

However, the bad news is that the High Ambition Coalition have gone quiet. Despite their name, they are failing to speak up collectively for an ‘ambitious’ plastics treaty.

With the emergence of the ‘low ambition’ group of countries pushing back on progress, it’s more important than ever for the High Ambition Coalition to speak out together with boldness. We need to make sure this chance to create a world-changing, legally binding treaty does not slip through our fingers.

Rather than quietly working at the edges of the negotiations, this High Ambition Coalition could actively drive and shape the talks, taking the initiative and steering the momentum towards a truly ambitious treaty, with justice at its heart. And that could make a real difference to the lives of people in poverty and to our planet.

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How can I respond?

Thank you for getting involved with the Rubbish Campaign. Every action, event, prayer and gift helps to increase the pressure on world leaders to make this opportunity count.

The High Ambition Coalition have gone quiet, and we think they could do with some encouragement to speak up. But you can help them to clear their throats, by sending them a remedy they can’t ignore!

Take action - send a lemon!

Join us in posting the Australian Government a soothing remedy – lemons, herbal tea, lozenges – to help them vocalise their ambition before the next round of negotiations!