The Montreal Protocol or the Paris Agreement as a Model for a Plastics Treaty?
The notion that a plastics treaty is necessary is gaining traction, but there is less agreement as to its content. Some, including this author, have suggested that a plastics treaty should be modelled on treaties such as the Montreal Protocol, which sets out a broad commitment to end the use of a particular material and then introduce regulations to ban particular forms of that material over time. This approach has an immediate appeal—it sends a signal to states and to industry that they must
... ry that they must change their behaviors and products, while giving time to adapt to the new regulation and develop alternative materials or ways of working. The potential drawback of this approach is that some states simply will not accept such rigid standards. In addition, some states may prefer a second approach that is more obviously rooted in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which assigns different obligations to parties according to their respective capacities. Within the climate change regime, the Paris Agreement takes both approaches, asking states to set their own nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to emissions reductions (common but differentiated responsibilities) and then to revise these NDCs over time through an iterative process to deliver progressively more ambitious targets for emissions reduction (moving toward a ban) or mitigation. In reality, neither approach is entirely suited to regulating plastics, so a new approach to treaty-making is required. This new approach should focus on the outcomes desired rather than the practices that need to be regulated.