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India favours consensus agreements instead of legal obligation

Experts termed the INC-4 as another missed opportunity to take up upstream measures i.e. regulating production of plastic and making fossil fuels industry accountable to it while focusing on downstream i.e. managing the plastic waste.

Plastic Waste Management Mumbai India Environmental NGO Earth5R 1230x767 1NEW DELHI: The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including the marine environment, ended without any tangible agreement in Ottawa, Canada. India favours regulation instead of elimination of plastic as it contributes to the country’s development process.

However, the INC-4 agreed to form two intersessional groups which will come up with discussion papers on plastic production criteria, chemicals of concern and product design focusing on recyclability while second intersessional group will look into possible ways to set up a financial system, financial flows and funding.

However, there was no intersessional group on inclusion of ‘primary plastic polymers’, a root cause of plastic pollution and undermines comprehensive solution. This exclusion of ‘upstream’ polymers contribute significantly to environment degradation and marine litter.

Experts termed the INC-4 as another missed opportunity to take up upstream measures i.e. regulating production of plastic and making fossil fuels industry accountable to it while focusing on downstream i.e. managing the plastic waste.

The Indian government’s stand on controlling plastic pollution approach is more regulatory and voluntary in nature instead of legal obligations. In its text, the Indian delegation made it clear that India favours a consensus approach instead of majority vote on any legal binding treaty.

“India prefers consensus for better functioning of effective multilateralism. We are a developing country, so we need to safeguard our national interest,” mentioned India’s statement. Furthermore, India insisted on financial and technical assistance as well as technology transfer to part of any considered documents.

However, experts see developing countries like India lack understanding of the negative impacts of plastic on communities.

“Over the past week we have heard India and other like-minded countries suggesting that plastic production is needed for development, and that national circumstances need to be considered,” said Swathi Shesadri of Centre for Financial Accountability, a non-profit advocate for transparency & accountability in finance.

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