Between November 30th and December 12th, COP28 will take place in Dubai bringing together world leaders, decision-makers and civil society. The annual conference provides a unique opportunity for global leaders to drive climate action further and introduce progressive policies. As a reminder, last year’s COP27 conference took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, the headline outcome of which was to provide loss and damage funding to nations that had been disproportionately affected by climate change.
The Paris Agreement
The priority this time around is to undertake a global stocktake of progress towards meeting the ambition set out in Paris at the 2015 COP, also known as the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Indeed, only weeks ago the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres tweeted that the World is “woefully off-track” in this regard. As such, COP28 represents a pivotal moment in changing the direction of both climate policy and its implementation.
Tackling climate change
The conference will be organised along themes aimed at tackling the causes of climate change such as technology, innovation and finance. Additionally, this year’s conference also marks the inclusion of a first-ever day on health, as a sign of the growing recognition of the effect of climate change on human health.
Impact of plastic pollution
While carbon emissions and the debate around the transition from or reduction of fossil fuels will take centre stage at COP28, we can’t ignore the impact plastic pollution has on our climate and biodiversity. From the emissions created in production to the energy-intensive recycling mechanisms and pollution caused by littering, plastic plays an important role in reducing the impacts of climate change. History has shown us that a by-product of an increasing global population and continued economic growth is the continuation and indeed worsening of both plastic production and pollution. Nowhere is the effect of plastic pollution more transparent than in our oceans. According to our partners Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s Message in a Bottle report, it is estimated that between 19 and 23 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the aquatic ecosystems annually. Additionally, because of its durability, a significant portion of the plastic used in society today enters and persists in marine ecosystems. Overall, plastics account for 60% - 80% of marine litter, and are ubiquitous across the entire ocean, even in remote areas.
Change to a culture of reuse
Managing plastic pollution and finding ways to drive behaviour change to a culture of reuse should become a global ambition, and must be on the agenda for any business or government looking to address the climate issues we are facing. At BRITA we have been championing a circular economy since we began and being resource-efficient is a top priority for us. We’ve reviewed all the materials in our products to better understand which materials have a negative impact on the environment or can’t be recycled, and we’re planning to phase these out by 2025.
Ocean Plastics Day
With Ocean Plastics Day 2023 fast approaching – November 22nd – we are given a timely reminder of the tangible consequences that plastic pollution has on our natural environment. The plastics crisis is an issue which requires strong global leadership to help inspire change at a local level.
Ditch the single-use plastic bottles
BRITA’s own polling data has shown that 45% of Brits prefer refill over the use of plastic bottled water (29%) yet we still consume water in over seven billion plastic bottles every year in the UK. This demonstrates that among consumers there exists a strong willingness to create positive change in relation to the production of single-use plastic. We can’t recycle our way out of this. Each year billions of plastic bottles still end up littered, landfilled and incinerated. To achieve the Government’s target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by 2042, Government and Local Authorities need to mainstream a culture of refill and reuse – to reduce the litter and pollution associated with single-use disposable plastic bottles.
Reach for the reusable
It’s a miracle of marketing that we buy polluting plastic bottles of water when we could be reaching for reusables and filling up from the tap. Let’s be clear on the environmental price of single-use plastic bottles. As well as littering our streets and countryside, single-use plastic bottles are polluting our rivers and seas. This is harming the world’s wildlife and our own health. With leaders at COP28 debating how we transition away or reduce our need for fossil fuels, the main feedstock for plastic production, we hope to see a drive towards alternatives and momentum to reduce reliance on single-use plastic so we can all reach for the reusable.