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Government delegations will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, to hammer out details of what could be the first global treaty to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. From a report: A key focus for the discussions on Monday will be whether targets to restrict plastic production should be decided unilaterally or whether states should choose their own targets; this is, say environmentalists, the “centre of gravity” for the treaty’s ambition. At the last round of negotiations in Paris in May run by the international negotiating committee (INC) the US, Saudi Arabia, India and China favoured a “Paris-style” agreement where states would have the freedom to determine their own commitments, while others, including Africa and many developing countries, preferred strong global commitments.But there are signs, some observers say, of a shift in the US’s position on this key issue, though details have yet to emerge. “The main takeaway for many environmental groups, after INC2 [the negotiations in Paris], was how bad the US position was, in terms of Paris-style voluntary commitments,” said Graham Forbes, the global plastics campaign lead for Greenpeace USA. He said there had been signals of a shift. “We are going to be watching very closely to see how that plays out. We need to be speaking about rules and putting in place regulations.”

Last month, a “zero draft” version of the text published by the INC as the basis of negotiations over what the head of the United Nations Environment Programme has described as the most important multilateral treaty since the Paris accord in 2015. The goal is to have a formal treaty in place by the end of 2024. This third round of talks, in Kenya from 13-17 November, will mark the halfway point.

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