Secretary of State Antony Blinken is throwing the U.S. government's support behind negotiations for a global plastics treaty, boosting momentum on talks that are expected to begin in February.
In remarks Nov. 18 at the U.N. environment agency's headquarters in Kenya, Blinken said the agreement should include strong national action plans. It suggests President Joe Biden could be taking a more muscular approach on the treaty than former President Donald Trump's administration.
"It's crucial that the agreement call on countries to develop and enforce strong national action plans to address this problem at its source," Blinken said. "Our goal is to create a tool that we can use to protect our oceans and all of the life that they sustain from growing global harms of plastic pollution."
The top U.S. diplomat did not go into details on what those national plans could look like, however, and there have been some sharp lines in preliminary talks between those who favor a more prescriptive agreement and those seeking more national flexibility.
Some countries have pushed for a legally binding pact like a Montreal ozone protocol for plastics.
Blinken noted that a lot of work has already been done but called on private companies to step up their efforts.
"Many countries, climate and ocean advocates, [and] private companies have supported this effort for some time," he said. "The private sector, in particular, will need to do more to cut plastic pollution and invest in innovation."
In comments to the UN agency, he framed the U.S. position as strengthening its work on the issue.
"Today, we are stepping up … our efforts to tackle another pollutant that threatens our planet, plastic, by announcing the United States' support for multilateral negotiations on a global agreement to combat ocean plastic pollution," he said.