A woman looks for valuables in a rubbish dump in Bamako on August 16, 2018. Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

The Norwegian government has announced a commitment to spend $200 million over the next 4 years to combat the growing scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans.

Why it matters: The commitment, unveiled at the Global Citizen Festival in New York, represents a significant ramp-up of efforts to prevent economic growth from irreparably harming sea life. It also shows momentum on a second major pillar of ocean policy, in addition to setting aside more ocean regions for conservation.

The background: The world's oceans are increasingly cluttered with plastic pollution from everything like plastic straws to water bottles and "ghostnets," which are fishing nets that have broken off their original lines.

  • The majority of all plastic produced is discarded or disposed of in natural environments, rather than being recycled.
  • Roughly 4.9 billion tons of plastic waste produced since the 1950s hasn't been recycled or burned. And, plastic production is expected to double over the next two decades.
  • Norway is a major oil producer, including offshore oil production, and has a significant fisheries industry.
  • The Norwegian government views oceans' health as a strategic priority, according to Nikolai Astrup, Norway's minister of international development.

The commitment: According to Astrup, who previewed the announcement in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, two-thirds of Norway’s wealth creation comes from ocean-related activities, and the oceans will be an even more important food source worldwide as population growth continues. This is particularly the case in Asia and Africa, he said.

"'One of the main problems is the almost complete lack of waste management systems in developing countries.”
— Nikolai Astrup, Norwegian Minister of International Development

Go deeper: Plastic straws play only minor role in global plastics pollution

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Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.

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Why it matters: CDC guidelines call for people who have been exposed to the virus to quarantine for 14 days. Meadows said on CNN's "State of the Union" that Pence will wear a mask when he travels and argued that "he's not just campaigning," pointing to the Israel-Sudan normalization agreement announced by the White House last week.