UPDATE 1-Plastic talks gather steam amid impasse over production limits

Adds comment from Angola negotiator

By Valerie Volcovici

- With the world still divided over how ambitious its first plastics treaty should be, countries are considering launching a series of smaller meetings before a hoped-for agreement in December.

Countries still need to decide on whether the treaty should call for reducing the amount of plastics produced as talks wind down on Monday.

During the last week of negotiations in Canada's capital, Ottawa, more than 60 countries demanded the treaty include production caps.

Rwanda, Peru along with the European Union, Norway, Ghana, and other governments calling themselves the High-Ambition Coalition said negotiators should spend the next few months studying whether some types of plastics can be reduced.

With plastic production on track to triple by 2050, such levels "are unsustainable and far exceed our recycling and waste management capacities," said Rwanda chief negotiator Juliet Kabera.

Rwanda and Peru have proposed a process for establishing baseline levels for the amount of plastic needed and used in each country to prevent overproduction and said this input will be useful to guide the final treaty.

Such efforts to target production are facing staunch opposition from some petrochemical-producing countries like Saudi Arabia and China. They have argued that the time before the final summit in Busan, Korea, would be better spent focused on topics such as managing plastic waste.

China's lead negotiator in Ottawa, Yang Xiaoling, said countries should be "focused on non-contentious subjects," such as redesigning plastic products so that they use less plastic or are more easily recyclable.

On the last day of talks in Ottawa on Monday, countries split into working groups to focus on resolving details of the hoped-for treaty, including how the work should be financed.

In announcing the plan for working groups to continue negotiating in coming months, the chair of the talks, Luis Vayas Valdivieso of Ecuador, did not say whether production limits would continue to be in discussion.

No country has objected to the plan for intersessional working groups, unlike during the November negotiations in Nairobi when Saudi Arabia, representing a small group of countries dubbed the Like-Minded Group, blocked work on the draft treaty outside of the official summits.

At earlier negotiations in Paris last year, Saudi Arabia and others spent a few days focused on arguing about rules of procedure guiding the talks, which delayed a discussion on content.

Thousands of people registered to attend the Ottawa talks, including hundreds of lobbyists representing the fossil fuel and chemical industries.

On Monday, some delegates said they were hopeful that negotiators can now move ahead move from position posturing to the work of negotiating the text of a treaty.

"We have already exhausted all of our arguments and now it is time to show good will and good faith and start negotiating the treaty," said Santos Virgilio, a negotiator for Angola. "This is now the time to sit down and to come up with solution."

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Katy Daigle and Aurora Ellis)


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