G-20 urges ‘voluntary action’ on marine plastic crisis but fails to agree on common approach

The Washington Post –

Environment ministers from the Group of 20 on Sunday recognized an urgent need to tackle the marine plastic litter that’s choking the world’s oceans, but failed to agree on concrete measures or targets to phase out single-use plastics.

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year, equivalent to a garbage truck’s worth every minute, and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans by weight than fish, scientists predict.

But agreeing on a common approach to the problem has proved problematic, with the United States blocking demands to set a global target to significantly reduce or phase out single-use plastics.

“Marine litter and especially marine plastic litter and microplastics, is a matter requiring urgent attention given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods and industries including fisheries, tourism and shipping, and potentially on human health,” environment ministers from the G-20 said on Sunday.

The ministers said they were “determined to drive measures to resolve this issue,” while also noting that “plastics play an important role in our economies and daily lives.”

But they failed to agree on any firm, shared commitments, talking only of “encouraging voluntary actions” by G-20 members “in accordance with national policies.”