‘Huge moment’ says ex-UN environment chief on India’s ban on single-use plastics


Former UN Environment chief Erik Solheim praised India’s effort to ban single-use plastics, saying he worked on this program four years ago with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“A huge moment for India’s environment,” Solheim tweeted Friday, adding: “Four years ago, I worked with Prime Minister Modi on a ban on single-use plastics. Now the government has delivered. Bravo!”

The Indian government banned the use of single-use plastic from July 1.

Following a historic resolution at the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi (Kenya) in February this year to end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024, the process has begun for an internationally-binding agreement to beat plastics, a menace to the people and the planet.

Solheim posted a video produced by the World Economic Forum, which indicates that India uses 14 million tonnes of plastic annually and plastic pollution is a growing problem in the country.

A former Norwegian diplomat, politician and environment minister, Solheim played a crucial role as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director in convincing India to phase out single-use plastics by 2022, a major achievement in his crusade against plastic pollution.

Solheim said he is optimistic that India can act as a catalyst for curbing greenhouse gas emissions too.

“India is right to point to the fact that developed nations have produced nearly all historic climate emissions and still pollute a lot more per capita than India. But there is no reason for India to follow the old paradigm that first you pollute horrendously and only when you get rich you start cleaning up,” Solheim told IANS in a recent interview.

“The 21st century is about the win-win policies. India can urgently go green and create millions of jobs bringing people out of poverty at the same time,” he had said.

According to UNEP, plastic production has risen exponentially in the last decades and now amounts to nearly 400 million tonnes a year – a figure set to double by 2040 if not checked.