US and Japan refuse to sign G7 pact against plastic pollution

The G7 Ocean Plastics Charter was signed by representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and the European Union, all of whom vowed to join the global fight against plastic waste.

Image: Jedimentat44/Flickr.

Image: Jedimentat44/Flickr.

The United States and Japan both refrained from signing the charter, which calls on countries to reduce single-use plastics, prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans, clean up existing plastic pollution, and invest in technologies for monitoring the impacts of the problem.

“The United States strongly supports healthy oceans, seas, and resilient coastal communities,” the statement reads. “The United States has announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and reserves on the climate-related language in the Blueprint.”

In other words, the US is opposed to global agreements that mention climate change, as evinced in the country’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

It’s unclear why Japan chose not to sign the measure, according to the Globe and Mail.

Canada, as the host country, committed $100 million to fight plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, the Globe and Mail reports.

The United Nations applauded the introduction of the charter, but urged participants to take greater action.

“The facts are clear. Our oceans are a mess,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at a G7 outreach event. “Plastic waste is now found in the most remote areas of the planet. It kills marine life and is doing major harm to communities that depend on fishing and tourism.”

“We all need to do so much more, not just on plastic waste but on all ocean issues,” he added. “Make no mistake, we are in a battle. And we are losing on every front.”

The G7’s Ocean Plastics Charter is relatively uncontroversial in its demands, echoing what multinational companies and environmental groups have both recognized.

And even though President Donald Trump refused to sign the agreement, states, cities, and companies across the US are fighting plastic pollution in their own ways.

For example, single-use plastic straws and bags are beginning to be banned throughout the country.