ISWA members commit to emission action

ISWA members commit to emission actionWaste and resource management sectors from over 30 countries have declared their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as the global response to climate change is addressed at COP21.

Following a meeting of its General Assembly in September, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) has presented its declaration to the Conference of Parties (COP) 21, which is taking place in Paris until 11 December, as representatives from 195 countries seek a new agreement to reduce global carbon emissions.

Signatories representing countries including the UK, China, Germany and the USA, all agreed to work to promote and bring about the potential of a substantial reduction in waste management emissions.

ISWA is a global network of waste management associations and companies that works to promote sustainable and professional waste management. The association’s General Assembly consists of the official representatives of the 39 national members. The UK is represented on a national level by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)

Immediate action

The declaration states that the ISWA recognises the ‘immediate action’ needed from governments, businesses and citizens to arrest climate change and avoid risk to land, property and ecosystems. The waste and resource management industry, it says, occupies ‘a unique position as a potential net reducer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions’.

This position, it asserts, represents an opportunity for carbon reduction that has not yet been fully exploited.

ISWA members commit to emission actionAs highlighted in a recent report carried out by Eunomia Research & Consulting, improved waste and resource management has the potential to greatly reduce GHG emissions. The report suggests that this could be by as much as 200 million tonnes a year by 2030.

ISWA reiterates that the sector offers an ‘immediate and cost-effective opportunity’ to substantially cut global GHG emissions and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – substances such as methane that have a warming effect on the climate and act as dangerous air pollutants. The sector will also be at the front line of meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as the global population, urbanisation and material consumption continue to increase.

As such, the association contends, the actions of the waste and resource management sector should be considered essential components of national, local and corporate strategies for mitigating climate change.

ISWA commitments

Considering these points, signatories to the declaration have committed to six broad actions to realise the waste and resource management sector’s potential to reduce emissions. These are:

  • increase awareness, network for capacity building, disseminate knowledge and experience at a variety of levels;
  • contribute to technical and scientific knowledge by supporting research and education on GHG and SLCP issues;
  • work closely with cities from low and middle income countries to participate in case studies and targeted action to mitigate GHG emissions;
  • assess experience from different countries and regions on policies, strategies and regulations;
  • support governments and policymakers in establishing and implementing policies to mitigate climate change and establish low-carbon development; and
  • reach out to the manufacturing industry to enhance cooperation on establishing good waste and resource management practices, such as sustainable planning and design and the application of recyclable raw materials.

As part of its commitment to support policymakers, ISWA will act as an Observer Organisation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which runs the annual COP meetings.

Government action

In addition to its own actions, ISWA is calling on governments to take into account the potential of the waste management industry to bring about significant positive change in emissions and to facilitate reductions by creating enabling conditions for a circular economy transition.

This action would come in the form of integration of waste and resource management strategies into national plans and initiatives and the creation of a robust agreement that provides ‘clear, long-term and predictable legislative and fiscal frameworks’ that would help scale up implementation of climate friendly actions.

ISWA states that mechanisms to leverage public funds and private-sector finance, and to de-risk investment in green technologies will be especially necessary in developing countries.

Industry's role in climate change fight not yet fully realised

Commenting on the commitment, Chris Murphy, Deputy Chief Executive of UK representatives CIWM, said: “The waste and resource management industry’s role in mitigating climate change and building a low carbon future has not yet been fully recognised and CIWM welcomes this initiative and commitment from ISWA.

"Our contribution stretches from pollution control and methane emission reduction through to better resource stewardship and productivity, renewable energy, and consumer behaviour change. These are all critical aspects of sustainable development, climate change mitigation and the move towards more circular economic models and tackling these challenges requires collaborative international effort that ISWA is well placed to promote and support.”

Learn more about the COP21 conference.

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