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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: ‘historic’ plastic deal, plus more positive news

Posted 4th March 2022 • Written by •

Nations agreed a landmark deal to end plastic waste, Panama gave nature legal rights, and Germany accelerated its shift towards renewables, plus more positive news

World leaders hailed ‘historic’ resolution on plastic

These are tumultuous times, but despite the political fallout from the war in Ukraine, 175 nations came together this week to strike what has been described as “the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord”.

Meeting in Nairobi, heads of state, ministers of environment and other representatives endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) to end plastic pollution. Nations agreed to negotiate an international treaty by 2024 to help realise that goal. 

“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said Espen Barth Eide, UNEA-5 president. “Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic. With today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”

Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, welcomed the agreement, but said the hard work had just begun. “World leaders must now show even more resolve in developing and implementing a treaty, which addresses our current plastic pollution crisis, and enables an effective transition to a circular economy for plastic.”

Germany embraced the ‘energy of freedom’

The German government has brought forward its target date for decarbonising the country’s energy supply by 15 years, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Some energy observers had speculated that attempts to isolate fossil fuel-rich Russia might hasten the shift to renewables. Germany’s announcement this week offered the first major sign that this could be happening. 

The west’s efforts to starve the Russian economy have forced nations to confront their reliance on fossil fuels. Germany imports around 65 per cent of its gas from Russia. 

But not for much longer. Europe’s leading economy has pledged to get 100 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2035. The previous target had been ‘before 2050’. German finance minister Christian Lindner described renewables as “the energy of freedom”. 

Panama enacted a rights of nature law

Wildlife-rich Panama has become the latest country to enshrine the rights of nature into law. 

Legislation passed this week gives nature the “right to exist, persist and regenerate,” and the “right to be restored after being affected directly or indirectly by any human activity.”

Passing the law is one thing, enforcing it is another. In Ecuador, which recognises the rights of nature, controversial extraction projects have continued in ecologically sensitive areas. However, as Positive News reported recently, the law has successfully halted some projects. 

Panama joins a growing list of countries that have introduced rights of nature laws. Bolivia, Mexico and New Zealand are among them.  

UK supermarkets embraced refill shopping

Some of the UK’s leading supermarkets have agreed to install refill stations in shops by the end of the year. 

Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Ocado all signed up to the Refill Coalition, which aims to make package-free shopping mainstream. UK supermarkets get through an estimated 59bn pieces of single-use plastic packaging annually. 

In a joint statement, the retailers said: “The Refill Coalition presents a landmark opportunity for us to make a step change in the commercialisation of refills, which we know can play a significant role in the reduction of single-use plastic packaging.”

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