It’s taken a year and a half, but there is now a draft for the proposed global treaty on plastic pollution. The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution’s so-called zero draft contains proposals outlining how to counter the world’s plastic pollution crisis, through reducing production and cutting dangerous chemical use. Plastic campaigners have been calling for a binding treaty for some time. Commenting on the draft, WWF welcomed the treaty draft but urged for a real change in ambition – in its current form the treaty contains options for action and WWF calls for countries to opt for the strongest possible measures and not compromise on weaker options, and for a globally binding treaty with bans on high-risk single use products.
The focus on plastic reduction is significant as the OECD has estimated that current plastic producer plans would lead to 44m tonnes of plastic waste every year by 2060, up from 22m tonnes in 2019. The draft treaty’s options for cutting plastic production include having countries set targets, and banning certain plastic types, removing subsidies and introducing plastic taxes. There is a focus on eliminating micro plastics, and proposals for how to reuse, repair, repurpose and refurbish plastic products. The treaty also contains proposals to control some of the 13,000 chemicals used in plastic production, through greater transparency and restrictions on export of materials containing the most dangerous substances. The treaty will be discussed in detail at the next round of negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya, in November.
Human rights: H+M to pull out of Myanmar
Fast fashion giant H+M has announced that it will be winding down its operations in Myanmar because of the increasing number of reports of labour abuses in garment factories in the southeast Asian country. Many other apparel brands, including Primark, Marks & Spencer and Zara, have already cut ties with Myanmar suppliers. H+M’s move follows a briefing from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in mid-August that highlighted the labour risks in the country, arguing that the situation has got worse in the period since the military takeover in February 2021.
The centre’s report says that gender-based violence, wage violations, inhumane working conditions and attacks on freedom of association are endemic throughout the country and on the rise, calling for brands to conduct heightened due diligence on human rights in supply chains and for responsibly cutting ties if necessary. Among the key recommendations for governments are to develop mandatory human rights due diligence legislation with a specific focus on high-risk countries. Investors are advised to consider divesting from companies that do not demonstrate they are taking sufficient action to identify and mitigate human rights abuses in supply chains.
Business wants UK climate certainty
A group of investors representing £1.5tn in assets under management has expressed concern over uncertainty on policy direction for the UK’s net zero transition. The group of 36 financial institutions convened under the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association – also known as UKSIF – includes Scottish Widows, Aegon, Jupiter Asset Management and Royal London. UKSIF says that the sector is urging the UK government to provide long-term policy certainty that will ensure the UK is a world leader in sustainable finance.
Specifically they call for a clear signal that policy driving investment such as carbon pricing mechanisms, the transition to electric vehicles, and energy efficiency standards for housing will not be changed abruptly. UKSIF points out that in a stable policy environment the finance sector will channel private capital into the new technologies and projects that will decarbonise the UK. Recent remarks from government have, the association says, undermined investor confidence.
$18tn energy transition investment gap
New research from Boston Consulting Group says that there is an investment shortfall of $18tn if the planet is to meet the necessary energy transition by 2030 to be on track for net zero emissions. A total of $37tn of investment is required, and Boston Consulting Group’s Centre for Energy Impact has found $19tn of commitments so far. Unsurprisingly the report cautions that the pace of fossil fuel phase out is too slow, calling instead for a massive acceleration.
Five levers are identified that can help drive the transition: increasing efficiency; electrification of transportation and heating; power supply decarbonisation; switching to lower carbon fuels as an interim measure where essential; and, developing carbon capture and storage. There is a lot to do: on energy supply alone, the report says that the renewable and low-carbon sources of power need to increase from 12% of global energy supply in 2021 to up to 70% by 2050. A potential energy supply crunch is looming – net zero scenarios call for fossil fuel use to decrease by up to 80% by 2030, but the current low-carbon alternatives will not as yet be able to meet the increased demand.
Think nature, G20!
The G20 group of nations collectively lacks the nature-based policies required to hit global biodiversity targets according to new research from CDP. The Global Biodiversity Framework requires that companies disclose their risks and impacts on biodiversity by 2030. Only Brazil, Indonesia and the EU have put in place biodiversity-related disclosure rules.
CDP notes that while there has been significant movement on climate-related financial disclosure over recent years, a lack of ambition on nature and biodiversity remains. The organisation has found more progress on water, but still only eight out of 20 G20 members have water disclosure regulations in place.