Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley along with Senators
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a
letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee (INC)’s first session taking place this week.
The Senators’ letter highlights the clear and present threat
plastic pollution poses to public health, national security, and the future of
the planet, and calls for an ambitious approach to the negotiations and bold
leadership from the United States.
“Without immediate, bold action, it is a threat that
will only continue to grow,” wrote the senators. “[The
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee’s first session] is a unique
opportunity for people all across the globe to work together towards a shared
goal of protecting our planet on behalf of future generations.”
The senators note how this first session of negotiations
will set the stage for future discussions, with many nations looking to the
United States for leadership to combat this global plastics crisis, and will
spotlight the importance of reducing plastic pollution at the source. The
Senators write that with strong U.S. leadership and interest in plastic
pollution, more countries will be pushed and encouraged to enact similar
stances in their own countries.
The senators highlight the crucial need for a global
agreement in order to effectively and efficiently combat the plastic pollution
crisis, including supporting better working conditions for waste pickers and
environmental justice throughout the plastics lifecycle.
The senators urge the administration to show leadership and
ambition during the first session of the INC by supporting the following goals
for the legally binding instrument:
- Promote the development and implementation of national
action plans that include robust metrics and targets for source reduction as
well as waste management, pollution prevention, and clean up;
- Advocate for circular economy principles, including better
product design and support for recycling, and ensure chemical recycling
technologies that harm communities and do not perpetuate a circular economy are
not part of the agreement;
- Advocate for the inclusion of the most harmful types of
plastic pollution in the discussions, including “ghost gear” and
- Encourage negotiators to discuss the role of plastics in
- Elevate the importance of the informal sector and other
marginalized groups in the process and agreement;
- Advocate for robust financial support and technical capacity
to ensure all countries can undertake ambitious strategies.