Deal on Persistant Organic Pollutants treaty enforcement rules elusive

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ENDS Europe Daily, 7 May 2007- World governments failed to agree a compliance regime for the UN’s Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) at the convention’s third meeting of parties in Dakar, Senegal, last week.

The treaty foresees the global phase-out of 12 POPs and entered force in 2004. Delegates discussed possible measures to be imposed on governments for failing to implement the convention’s requirements. According to sources at the meeting, progress was held up by Asian countries on the specific point of which body should decide whether a country is complying with the convention.

EU sources at the meeting said the outcome on non-compliance mechanisms was particularly disappointing because an earlier meeting of compliance experts convened to accelerate the debate had made progress on ways to enforce the treaty.

In other areas progress was made. The meeting adopted guidelines on Best available technology (BAT) and Best environmental practice (BEP) for reducing POPs emitted as by-products from industrial processes. In practice this relates mainly to dioxins, but furans, polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene are also covered.

The meeting also agreed to establish a global monitoring plan to study the impact of the convention on POPs levels. And it adopted a “dioxin toolkit” for governments, setting out rules for estimating the emissions of dioxins from anthropogenic and natural sources.

Last year’s meeting had been unable to agree on dioxin inventory guidance. Convention parties also adopted guidelines originating from the Basel hazardous waste trade convention on the handling of POPs in waste. The development marks a small step forward from last year, when the meeting failed to back strengthened cooperation between Stockholm and the Basel and Rotterdam conventions.

Ten substances are under review as prospective candidates to join the 12 POPs covered by Stockholm. No additional chemicals were proposed for inclusion in this waiting list at last week’s meeting. Parties endorsed the need for some countries to continue using blacklisted chemical DDT to combat malaria.

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