India seeks plastic pollution agreement via full consensus | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India seeks plastic pollution agreement via full consensus

ByJayashree Nandi
Apr 28, 2024 06:54 AM IST

India, while clearing its stand, said it will only support an international legally binding agreement on plastic pollution if it is reached via full consensus, not one made through the support of a two-thirds majority

India will only support an international legally binding agreement on plastic pollution if it is reached via full consensus, not one made through the support of a two-thirds majority, the country’s delegation said during the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on plastics on April 23 and reiterated on Friday during the third plenary.

India seeks plastic pollution agreement via full consensus
India seeks plastic pollution agreement via full consensus

Several stumbling blocks remain with major disagreements among parties on primary plastic polymers, chemicals and polymers of concern, and trade, which are yet to be resolved, according to the International Institute of Sustainable Development.

The INC meetings are negotiating the contours of a draft global treaty to address the growing problem of plastic pollution, with the objective of covering the full lifecycle of plastics, from production to disposal, and to promote sustainable production and consumption of plastics.

The INC 4 meeting, which aims to advance negotiations so that the committee can finalise the text of the instrument at its fifth session in November, will close on April 29.

INC-5, to be held in Busan, South Korea, from November 25 to December 2, 2024, is intended as the end of the INC process and will be followed by a diplomatic conference where heads of state will sign the agreement, the United Nations Environment Programme said.

India sought assurance from the INC chair, Luis Vayas Valdivieso, that Rule 38.1 of the draft rules of procedure, which allows for a two-thirds majority vote on substantive matters if consensus cannot be reached, will not be invoked during this round of negotiations.

“India would like to reiterate its commitment to the principles of consensus in decision making on substantive issues under the multilateral environment,” India said during the opening plenary, according to a person aware of the country’s submissions. “India believes that a consensus-based approach in multilateral decision making is crucial for ensuring fairness, equity and inclusiveness.”

The chair assured India that all discussions will be held “in the spirit of cooperation and consensus” without resorting to Rule 38.1.

Several countries, including Russia, China, UAE and Cuba, have opposed the option of voting, independent observers said. Experts pointed out that a consensus-driven system allows one or a few member states to veto certain decisions, rather than decisions being made based on majority voting.

“Some of the provisions discussed (at INC 4) contained wording that has neither been defined nor been fully agreed, including vital terms like life-cycle approach and problematic plastic. With a non-stop programme throughout the day on Friday, many spoke about the need for robust definitions, with some others candidly sharing that without a common understanding ‘we will not be able to agree’,” said IISD which is tracking plastic negotiations, in a statement on Friday.

A Centre for Science and Environment report flagged that companies have started increasing oil and gas production for polymers in anticipation of a serious response to climate change that could curb the production of fossil fuels, the Hindustan Times reported on April 17.

The report also highlighted that India, Russia, the United States and China, in certain cases, are not agreeable to reducing primary plastic polymer production, reducing chemicals from polymer production or phasing out single-use plastic.

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