News Digest | 16-30 November

Hopes rising for historic treaty to curb plastic pollution

Each year, millions of tonnes of plastic waste wind up in rivers, the ocean, and landfills. This plastic could eventually find its way into the food chain and harm both the environment and human health. The need for a “binding international instrument” on plastic pollution has grown as a result of the expansion of environmental multilateralism since the first World Environment Conference in Stockholm in 1972. Global negotiators have convened in Nairobi, Kenya for the third session of the International Negotiating Committee (INC) to deliberate the draught text during the third week of November. The current stage of the negotiations is halfway through. Additionally, the “zero draught” of the prospective treaty’s text is being considered by the Member States for the first time. The ultimate document should be ready for signature by the end of the next year, according to the negotiators’ goal.  The UN Environment Assembly passed a landmark resolution in March 2022 to establish the INC, a worldwide legally binding instrument against plastic pollution, especially that which affects the marine environment. Since plastic pollution affects everyone, it is comforting to know that people from all around the world are uniting in Nairobi and at future INC sessions to address this crucial issue. A robust, ambitious, and just plastic treaty is necessary, but that is just the beginning.  The next important stage will be to make sure the instrument is implemented promptly and effectively after it is accepted and eventually comes into force. I thus ask that all Members and interested parties begin to consider how implementation might begin. even before the Treaty’s complete ratification and enforcement. 

COP28 talks open in Dubai with breakthrough deal on loss and damage fund

Developing countries facing the financial burden of increasingly frequent extreme weather disasters, including droughts, floods, and sea level rise, have long demanded the fund. Developed countries reiterated their support for the necessity of creating the fund during COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last year, after years of hard negotiations at yearly UN climate summits. It is also believed that Germany has committed to contributing $100 million to the fund. Japan and the US have also declared plans to contribute to the fund. The Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is holding its 28th annual meeting, dubbed “COP,” which began today and will end on December 12. The vast Expo City complex, which is decked up with flora and trees, is the setting for the action. Situated on the outskirts of Dubai, it is anticipated to welcome more than 70,000 delegates, climate negotiators, and other attendees who are coming together to create a more sustainable future for the earth. The “Global Stocktake,” a procedure that assesses the degree to which important elements of the Paris Agreement have been implemented thus far—namely, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing climate resilience, and generating financial support for vulnerable nations—will come to an end during the COP in Dubai.

Hitching a ride to a better future: Sustainable Transport Day

Transport and global sustainability are closely related, as Antonio Guterres noted in his explanation of “this first World Sustainable Transport Day: the road to a better future depends on cleaner and greener transport systems.” “Transportation serves as the global circulatory system, facilitating the movement of people and goods between nations, generating employment opportunities, and bolstering economic growth,” Mr. Guterres stated, highlighting the critical role that transportation plays in advancing human progress. The facts are concerning: motorized transportation by land, sea, and air still uses 91% of its energy from fossil fuels, and the transportation sector is accountable for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the industry’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels, the Secretary-General voiced hope that humanity will be able to confront the problem head-on. He offered a plan for increased sustainability, saying that it would involve “electric and solar-powered vehicles, renewable aviation fuel sources, massive investments in green public transport systems, and measures like carbon pricing and subsidies for low-carbon fuels.” During the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), which starts in Dubai on 30 November, sustainable transport, policy, and cutting-edge technologies will be prominently featured. 

Closing Adaptation Knowledge Gaps in Asia-Pacific

UN Climate Change and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) are working together to reduce knowledge gaps in adaptation planning and implementation. This is being done at a time when adaptation progress seems to be stagnating, as per the 2023 UNEP Adaptation Gap Report, which was released on November 2. Together with UNEP and UN Climate Change, governments, non-governmental organizations, and specialists address knowledge gaps in adaptation through the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI). Governments, experts, and partners were brought together by UN Climate Change, in collaboration with UNEP and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), for the 2023 Asia-Pacific Climate Week. The purpose of the gathering was to deliberate on advancements made, exchange case studies, and showcase tangible measures implemented to close knowledge gaps in the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) subregions. Graduate students at the University of Michigan undertook a study addressing adaptation knowledge gaps in Samoa and Vanuatu to address the lack of access to early warning systems in Pacific Island countries. They created suggestions on how to use climate information services, integrate traditional knowledge, and build capacity to benefit Pacific islands under the UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme. UN Climate Change and UNEP intend to scale up the LAKI in additional subregions to make sure locally driven adaptation is prioritized for a sustainable and resilient future, building on the achievements and lessons learned in the Asia-Pacific area.


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