BRS at COP-28: How the sound management of chemicals and waste relates to climate action

COP28 concluded with a Landmark decision on the outcome of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement recognizing the “need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in GHG emissions in line with the 1.5 °C pathways” and called on Parties to contribute to global efforts in eight specific areas, including to triple renewable energy targets, double energy efficiency goals, and to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems. Other important outcomes relate, among other things, to establishing a Global Goal on Adaptation framework, and operationalizing the loss and damage fund. The COP28 messages set the expectations for the next round of nationally determined contributions.

The BRS Secretariat engaged in COP28 in various events and shares its takeaways from the meeting on the contribution of the sound management of chemicals and wastes to climate action.

  • Waste management and the circular economy has a critical role in addressing climate change;
  • Solid waste management and zero-waste initiatives allows for effective GHG emissions reductions, noting that waste is the largest anthropogenic source of methane (around 20% of global methane emissions), which is projected to growth significantly in the coming years;
  • Global responsible trade of waste, in particular plastic wastes, promoted by international regulations, such as the Basel Convention, protects vulnerable countries from unwanted wastes that they would not be able to manage otherwise, and hence prevent GHG emissions from occurring;
  • Circular approaches promoting waste prevention, re-use, recycling, and replacement of fossil fuels and feedstock by secondary raw materials will create significant GHG emissions reductions estimated to the magnitude of 20% reductions of global emissions;
  • Some countries use their nationally determined contribution as a vehicle for addressing waste management at the national level and unlocking investment, through carbon finance, which allows the private sector to continue to innovate and improve their operations;
  • Waste should be seen as a resource bringing environmental benefits (less waste to be disposed of resulting in fewer GHG emissions and pollution), economic opportunities (creation of green jobs and cost savings in value chains) and resource conservation (less demand for raw material extraction).
  • The transition to a circular economy requires collaboration between businesses across the value chains, with suppliers and consumers. Governments at different levels have an important role to play to create the enabling conditions for a circular transition by promoting goals and targets, facilitate collaboration among sectors, development regulations, mobilizing financial resources.
  • It is crucial for countries to increase their ambition in their next round of NDC to reach Paris Agreement’s goals and, for that, waste and resource management and circularity provide effective mitigation solutions. Tools exist to assist countries to further implement waste management, for instance through the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Waste Wise Cities Tool developed by UN-HABITAT and the Toolbox to integrate circularity into NDCs, developed by the One Planet Network.
  • It is important to recognize the interlinkages between the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and to work towards coordinated solutions. Further studies should be conducted on those linkages and co-benefits as well as outreach activities should be amplified.

The BRS Secretariat wishes to thank all partners which joined the various events being held to share their views and perspectives on how the sound management of chemicals and wastes provide effective solutions for climate action.