For the most part, the G7 summit this weekend in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie in Québec was all about trade wars, Trumpian bluster, and another chance to analyze a tense diplomatic exchange that looked like a Renaissance painting. Something good did come of it, though: a Blueprint for “healthy oceans, seas and resilient coastal communities.”
The official communique reveals that the G7 has agreed to work together to safeguard the world’s oceans and its coastal communities from a range of threats, including pollution, overfishing, and climate change. It’s of course entirely unsurprising that Trump, who also skipped out on an earlier discussion about climate change, didn’t put his name to the G7’s Ocean Plastic Charter, which is part of the overall Blueprint.
The US delegations’ measly contribution to the charter can be found as a footnote, which explains that the country “strongly supports health oceans, seas, and resilient coastal communities.” It also says it has reservations about the “climate-related language” in the Blueprint, which is par for the course.
However, it’s deeply disappointing that Japan also abstained from supporting it too. As noted by The Globe and Mail, Japan’s refusal to sign up remains unclear at this point.
Clearly, we are doing a phenomenal job at trashing the oceans. Climate change and agricultural runoff are starving them of oxygen and snuffing out life; plastic, whose impacts we’re still scrambling to ascertain, are ending up everywhere, including the Arctic, in embarrassingly high quantities; overfishing is having severe impacts not only on biodiversity, but nations’ abilities to feed their people.
Plastics are in the spotlight plenty as of late, and the United Nations has certainly taken an interest in dealing with the problem.
Back in December 2017, a meeting of nations agreed that the world must prevent plastic garbage entering the oceans. It was originally a stronger motion – one with legally binding targets – but this was nixed in favor of a weaker one because of protestations by the US.