Initial hope for a strong response to addressing the plastic problem in our oceans has faded. At an environmental summit in Kenya early in December, three major players blocked the adoption of internationally agreed-upon goals. A watered-down resolution did pass, however. In the resolution, countries agreed that the world must stop plastics from entering the ocean. They further suggested a task force to study the issue. But unfortunately, there is no timetable for such a task force or legally binding elements for countries. This makes the resolution almost entirely toothless and a largely token gesture.
The United States, China, and India — three of the world’s worst offenders — rejected a stronger motion with specific, agreed-upon goals for countries to take up targets for reducing plastics. Although governments are finally beginning to take the issue more seriously, they must begin to set and achieve measurable goals.
No global consensus
While there was no firm global consensus in the form of a strong U.N. resolution, many countries took a stand at the meeting and unilaterally declared tougher action against plastic bags. Both South Africa and Cameroon declared a new tax on single-use plastic bags. The following African nations also have a near-total ban; Mauretania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Uganda.
Let’s hope that more government take this issue seriously and act to help save our oceans from the curse of plastic pollution before it’s too late.