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UNEA-6: Fossil Fuels Drive Both The Plastics And Climate Crises & Need An International Framework To Phase Them Out

On the opening day of the 6th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) meeting, environmental experts and advocates united to demand decisive action against the ongoing climate and plastics crises fueled by fossil fuels.

Hellen Kahaso Dena, Project Lead of the Pan-Africa Plastics Project at Greenpeace Africa, emphasized the dire need for a robust Global Plastics Treaty.

“Our planet is drowning in plastic, a crisis intricately linked to the fossil fuel industry. Member states are allowing fossil fuel interests to drive the treaty negotiations and water down its ambition. Ending the corporate addiction to plastic is an important part of moving away from fossil fuels, combating climate change, pollution and protecting communities,” said Dena.

Amos Wemanya, Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy and Just Transitions at Powershift Africa, highlighted the devastating impact of fossil fuels on the climate.

“Fossil fuels are failing to power the African continent. Despite decades of coal, oil and gas extraction, 600 million Africans have been left without power. The era of fossil fuels must end now if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. We urge member states at UNEA-6 to commit to a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.”

Seble Samuel, Head of Africa Campaigns and Advocacy for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, called for the adoption of an international treaty to equitably phase out fossil fuels and deliver a financed global just transition to distributed renewable energy systems.

“The plastics crisis reinforces the need for a binding Global Plastics Treaty as well as a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty that can tackle the root cause of both crises —

fossil fuels. An international fossil fuel treaty is not only necessary, it is urgent. We need binding commitments to phase out fossil fuels and ensure a just transition for affected communities, particularly in Africa, that diversifies economies, deploys renewables, builds development alternatives and puts finance, technology, justice and equity at the centre.”

Plastic production is closely tied to the fossil fuel industry, primarily through the extraction and processing of petrochemicals. The energy-intensive process of converting petrochemicals into plastics contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. As global fossil fuel demand is projected to decline, the fossil fuel industry is eyeing plastics as a lifeline. As the demand for plastic continues to grow, so does the need for fossil fuels, thus increasing emissions and accelerating the climate emergency.

Greenpeace Africa, Powershift Africa, and the Fossil-Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative call on UNEA-6 member states to formulate and adopt a comprehensive and binding Global Plastic Treaty that addresses the entire lifecycle of plastics, from production to disposal. They also call on member states to endorse and implement an international fossil fuel treaty to fairly phase out fossil fuel production and support a just transition towards sustainable and renewable energy sources.

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