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When talking about plastic, we need to start talking about climate too. 2 billion tons of Co2e is from the worlds production and use of plastic.

The new report: Climate impacts of plastics: Global actions to stem climate change and end plastic pollution" investigates what needs to be addressed in the new international treaty to tackle the challenges of plastic in connection with climate change.

  • For plastic, the focus has long been that plastic is a pollution problem. We highlight another problematic aspect of plastic – namely, its impact on climate, which largely stems from the production of plastic and plastic products. We believe it is essential to bring these findings to the attention of policymakers, making sure the international efforts are aimed at addressing this issue with plastic. Our analysis highlights that plastic-related greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficiently addressed, says Karen Landmark, managing director at GRID-Arendal.

Greenhouse gases are emitted throughout the entire life cycle of plastics, estimated as between 3.8 and 4.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This will only grow as production of plastic continues to grow. Plastic pollution is accelerating climate change and making the impact of climate change worse. To achieve the most significant impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the most time and energy should be dedicated to minimising plastic production.

  • Plastic pollution is making climate change worse. We must be aware of the linkages between plastics and the triple planetary crisis, to search for solutions and minimise harmful impacts on the environment and people. Plastic action is climate action, says Ieva Rucevska, senior expert on plastic and one of the authors on the new report.

The new plastic treaty should acknowledge the need for protection of the climate system, alongside its role in safeguarding human health and the environment.

  • It is important to ensure that measures addressing the entire life cycle of plastic are included in the new agreement. The measures we emphasize are aimed at limiting the climate impact of plastic, and what we observe is that the most crucial aspect is reduction, both in the production of plastic and consumption, says Managing director at GRID-Arendal, Karen Landmark.

The findings in the report will be discussed during an event at the UNEA 6: https://unea6.sched.com/event/1Yfph

The UNEA 6 is a political platform bringing together environment ministers from 193 member countries to set priorities for the global environmental agenda. It is the planet’s top decision-making body on the environment.

  • We urge decision makers to consider the impacts of plastic pollution and linking it with climate change and biodiversity loss, says Karen Landmark.

UNEA-6 will focus on the links between the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. Backed by strong science, political resolve and engagement with society, UNEA-6 will be an opportunity for world governments, civil society groups, the scientific community, and the private sector to shape the global environmental policy for the future.

Pictures and graphics: Can be used freely accredited GRID-Arendal

Image 5268_ Ieva & Karen attending UNEA 6 to raise the awareness of the new report.
Image 5194_Inger Andersen & and the plastic monster at UNEA 6.

Notes to editors:
About GRID-Arendal: GRID-Arendal is a non-profit environmental communications centre based in Norway. We specialise in transforming environmental data into innovative, science-based information products and offer capacity-building services for improved environmental governance. Our goal is to inform and engage a global audience, motivating decision-makers towards positive change. GRID-Arendal collaborates with the United Nations Environment Programme and various global partners.

Release date: 29 Feb 2024


GRID-Arendal's activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with partners and donors.

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