States recommend limiting corporate players from plastic pollution policy making

DENMARK – States at the Annual Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention flagged the need to control corporate players’ influence in decision-making concerning plastic pollution.

The Aarhus Convention is a multilateral environmental agreement through which the opportunities for citizens to access environmental information are increased and transparent and reliable regulation procedure is secured.

At the Conventional, States want a firewall to be created for industry representatives with a vested interest in participating in the negotiations.

David Azoulay, environmental health program director at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) said: “We need full transparency about who will be present in the negotiating room before the start of the negotiations.

“We want to see the implementation of a strong conflict of interest policy that excludes representatives from industries with a vested interest in participating in the negotiations.

“This is similar to what was done by the World Health Organization when it agreed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – where a firewall was created between the tobacco lobby and public health officials and decision-makers.”

According to Azoulay, ninety-nine percent of virgin plastics are made from oil and gas, and investing companies are building more production capacity and petrochemical facilities, with estimates showing that plastic production could triple by 2050.

“The presence of these producers in treaty negotiations is incompatible with advancing a treaty prioritizing health, the environment, and human rights,” explains Azoulay.

“Beyond oil and gas companies, there are chemical manufacturers, proponents of technologies like advanced chemical recycling and others that have vested political and financial interests in the negotiations.”

The industries responsible for harm should not be freely able to influence the drafting of policies designed to rectify the harm.

CIEL’s environmental health program director stresses that rather than bringing measures to limit production and meaningfully address their products’ health and human rights impacts, producers tend to bring solutions that sound promising but will not address the crisis.

“We need communities with intimate knowledge and experience with those harms present in negotiations. For the plastics treaty negotiations, this includes groups like independent scientists and medical professionals, frontline communities along the entire lifecycle, indigenous peoples, workers and waste pickers,” concludes Azoulay.

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