UK scientists are warning nations involved in climate change policy to not forget that the world is facing a plastic waste crisis, according to BBC.

The scientists fear that there is a lot of energy being expended on emissions policy that nations may fail to address plastic pollution.

A new paper from the scientists of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Bangor University has said that plastic pollution is linked to climate change. In fact, it said that both issues are intertwined.

Manufacturing plastic items is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. And extreme weather, such as floods and typhoons, associated with a heating planet could worsen the plastic waste crisis in the sea.

Both climate change and plastic pollution have hit marine species and ecosystems, such as coral reefs. Also, coral reefs and other vulnerable habitats are suffering from seas heating, ocean acidification, and pollution from farms and industry.

Taking the new paper into consideration, the researchers want politicians to address not only climate change but also plastic pollution.

Prof. Heather Koldewey, the head of ZSL said, “Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most critical global threats of our time. Plastic pollution is also having a global impact; from the top of Mount Everest to the deepest parts of our ocean.”

“Both are having a detrimental effect on ocean biodiversity; with climate change heating ocean temperatures and bleaching coral reefs, to plastic damaging habitats and causing fatalities among marine species.”

“The compounding impact of both crises just exacerbates the problem. It’s not a case of debating which issue is most important, it’s recognizing that the two crises are interconnected and require joint solutions,” added Koldewey, who is also the co-founder of Project Seahorse.

She explained, “The biggest shift will be moving away from wasteful single-use plastic and from a linear to a circular economy that reduces the demand for damaging fossil fuels.”

Lead author of the paper Helen Ford of Bangor University said, “I have seen how even the most remote coral reefs are experiencing widespread coral death through global warming-caused mass bleaching. Plastic pollution is yet another threat to these stressed ecosystems.”

“Our study shows that changes are already occurring from both plastic pollution and climate change that are affecting marine organisms across marine ecosystems and food webs, from the smallest plankton to the largest whale,” she added.

Meanwhile, the ZSL has been urging nations and their politicians to put nature at the heart of all decisions in order to jointly tackle global threats of climate change as well as the plastic waste crisis. The article appeared on BBC.