India’s Stand on Plastic Pollution: Seeking Consensus in International Agreements

Plastic waste has emerged as a pressing global worry, prompting joint efforts by nations to address its harmful effects on the environment and human health. Amidst this backdrop, India’s delegation made a significant statement during the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on plastics held on April 23 and reiterated during subsequent plenary sessions: India will only support an international legally binding agreement on plastic pollution if it is reached via full consensus, not one made through the support of a two-thirds majority.

The INC meetings serve as a stage for discussing a draft global treaty aimed at addressing the rising problem of plastic waste thoroughly. The primary goal of these talks is to create a framework that handles the entire lifespan of plastics, from production to waste, while supporting safe production and usage practices.

The current INC 4 meeting, set to end on April 29, is important in moving talks to complete the text of the instrument by the fifth session in November. INC-5, set to be held in Busan, South Korea, from November 25 to December 2, 2024, marks the conclusion of the INC process, leading to an international meeting where heads of state will sign the agreement.

India has underscored its dedication to the principles of agreement in international decision-making processes, stressing its importance in ensuring fairness, justice, and inclusion. The group has sought confirmation from the INC chair that Rule 38.1, allowing for a two-thirds majority vote on serious issues in the lack of agreement, will not be called during the talks.

Despite joint efforts, several stumbling blocks remain in the talks, with major differences among parties on crucial issues such as basic plastic polymers, chemicals and polymers of concern, and trade. These unanswered problems offer challenges to achieving agreement on the draft deal.

India’s stand on agreement finds echoes with several other countries, including Russia, China, UAE, and Cuba, which have resisted the choice of vote. Experts say that a consensus-driven method ensures the fair involvement of all parties and stops choices from being forced by a mere majority.

One of the key issues in the bargaining process is the lack of clear meanings for important terms such as ‘life-cycle approach’ and ‘problematic plastic.’ Without a shared understanding of these terms, getting agreement on important clauses becomes naturally difficult.

Amid rising worries over plastic waste, there has been a notable rise in oil and gas production for polymers by companies expecting legal steps to reduce climate change. However, certain countries, including India, Russia, the United States, and China, have shown hesitation in lowering main plastic polymer production or phasing out single-use plastic.

India’s insistence on a consensus-based method underlines the value of open decision-making in handling global issues such as plastic waste. As talks continue at the INC meetings, promoting unity and understanding among countries is crucial for creating an effective and fair international deal.


Why is India pressing for consent in the agreement?
India thinks that a consensus-based method ensures fairness, equality, and inclusion in international decision-making processes, important for handling complicated global issues like plastic waste.

What are the sticking blocks in negotiations?
Major differences remain among parties on issues such as basic plastic polymers, chemicals, and polymers of concern, and trade, slowing unity on the draft treaty.

How will the INC pact solve plastic pollution?
The INC treaty aims to create a complete framework covering the entire lifetime of plastics, from production to waste, while supporting sustainable production and usage practices.

Which countries reject the choice of voting?
Countries such as Russia, China, UAE, and Cuba have resisted the choice of voting, arguing for a consensus-driven method of decision-making.

What are the consequences of higher plastic production?
Increased plastic production, driven by companies expecting regulatory measures, poses challenges to efforts aimed at reducing plastic waste and moving to more sustainable options.

Read more: India’s Tech Triumph: Praise for PM Modi’s Leadership in Global AI Summit

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