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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 15 Number 222 | Thursday, 7 May 2015


BRS Conventions COPS

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF) FR (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Geneva, Switzerland at: http://enb.iisd.org/chemical/cops/2015/

The meetings of the BRS COPs reconvened on Wednesday, 6 May 2015. In the morning, delegates heard reports from the contact groups on: technical assistance and financial resources; coordination and cooperation; technical matters; and non-compliance in the Rotterdam Convention (RC).

The Stockholm Convention (SC) COP convened in plenary to address matters related to implementation of the convention and measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use. Contact groups met throughout the day to address: technical assistance and financial resources; technical matters; listing of chemicals under the SC; budget; RC non-compliance; and cooperation and coordination.

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION COP7

In the morning, President Johanna Lissinger Peitz welcomed Afghanistan as the 179th party to the SC.

RULES OF PROCEDURE: The Secretariat introduced the documents (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/3). Without discussion, the COP agreed to defer a decision on this to COP8.

MATTERS RELATED TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION: Listing of chemicals in Annex A, B or C to the Convention: The Secretariat introduced the documents, noting that the POPRC recommended that the COP consider listing chlorinated naphthalenes (CNs), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and pentachlorophenol (PCP) and its salts and esters (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/17-20 and UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/30).

UNEP reported on its cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on endocrine disrupting chemicals and said that POPRC could potentially consider information on endocrine disruption during the Annex D review phase, not as a requirement, but along with other information on adverse effects.

The AFRICAN GROUP, GRULAC, BELARUS, NEW ZEALAND, PAKISTAN, MEXICO, THAILAND, NORWAY, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, the COOK ISLANDS, SERBIA, GEORGIA and PANAMA supported the POPRC's recommendations. INDIA opposed listing any of the chemicals. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION opposed listing CNs.

The REPUBLIC OF KOREA, the EU and SWITZERLAND preferred no exemptions for PCP. OMAN requested a five-year exemption for some uses of HCBD. CHINA said it is open to the recommendations but expressed concerns about the benefits of listing CNs and HCBD in Annex C and, with THAILAND and GRULAC, noted the need for financial and technical assistance to meet obligations arising from new listings.

IPEN supported listing all three chemicals, underscoring the adverse health effects of PCP, including contamination of soils and groundwater, and called for listing it in Annex A without exemptions. The INUIT CIRCUMPOLAR COUNCIL underscored specific challenges faced by Arctic indigenous peoples. The US described actions it has taken to reduce PCP.

Delegates agreed to establish a contact group to discuss listing all three chemicals, with David Kapindula (Zambia) and Björn Hansen (EU) as Co-Chairs.

President Lissinger Peitz then requested the POPRC to report on developments for action for the COP, which includes a draft decision to, inter alia, appoint new POPRC members and elect the POPRC Chair. The Secretariat reported on, inter alia, membership and elections of the Chair, recommendations of listing new chemicals, and cooperation and coordination with other scientific bodies. POPRC Chair Estefânia Gastaldello Moreira (Brazil) reported on the POPRC’s work on the commercial mixture of decabromodiphenyl ether (c-decaBDE), dicofol and short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs). 

Many countries supported the decision and documents as presented and the election of the Chair. NORWAY did not support the idea of shortening POPRC meetings. CANADA suggested that the COP, in addition to the Secretariat, encourage parties to submit information relevant to Annexes E and F, underlining the need for information on chemicals currently in use. The EU announced its intention to nominate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to the POPRC as a possible POP.

Noting general agreement, President Lissinger Peitz said this decision would be taken later to allow regions to consult on the rotation of POPRC members.

Measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use: Exemptions: In the morning, President Lissinger Peitz invited comments on expiration of PFOS specific exemptions and India’s notification on using DDT as an intermediary in the production of dicofol.

On PFOS specific exemptions, the EU, the AFRICAN GROUP and NORWAY supported ending specific exemptions for lindane and PFOS. CAMBODIA suggested maintaining the exemption for fire-fighting foam. PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK urged ending all specific exemptions and acceptable uses of PFOS. IPEN underscored the need to eliminate the use of PFOS in fire-fighting foam, aviation hydraulic fluids and other open applications.

On India’s notification, the EU, NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, the AFRICAN GROUP and others noted that Annex B (I.iii) states that the COP shall take into account whether the chemical produced using the intermediary displays the POP characteristics outlined in Annex D, and recalled that POPRC10 agreed that dicofol meets these criteria.

INDIA underscored that its submission meets the criteria set out in the Convention and that DDT is a cost-effective intermediary that is used in a site-specific closed system. He further observed that dicofol is still under review by the POPRC and has not yet been listed in the SC.

President Lissinger Peitz proposed establishing a contact group to examine the proposed listings and specific exemptions and to review the draft decision (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/4/Rev.1). INDIA said the group should not address its request for an exemption. NORWAY, supported by the EU, said the request should be discussed in the group. President Lissinger Peitz asked India, Norway and the EU to consult during lunch. In the afternoon, President Lissinger Peitz announced that consultations were ongoing.

DDT: In the afternoon, the Secretariat introduced the evaluation of the continued need for DDT for disease vector control (DVC) and the report of the DDT Expert Group (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/5 and INF/5). UNEP introduced its proposed roadmap for development of alternatives to DDT and the report on the implementation of the Global Alliance (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/6-7). WHO introduced its document on the continued need for DDT in DVC (UNEP/POP/COP.7/INF8).

MOROCCO, the AFRICAN GROUP, SWITZERLAND, YEMEN, MEXICO, VIETNAM, CROPLIFE INTERNATIONAL and BIOVISION supported the roadmap. SENEGAL, with VIETNAM, called on the COP to approve financial and technical assistance for implementation of the roadmap.

INDIA, SOUTH AFRICA and SWAZILAND indicated that they would continue targeted use of DDT until safe and viable alternatives become available. DOMINICA suggested that integrated vector management programs can serve as an effective alternative to DDT. GABON called on WHO to assess the impact of continued use of DDT. The US expressed concern about the slow pace of development of alternatives. IPEN urged greater emphasis on non-chemical alternatives. PAN stressed involvement of civil society in developing long-term strategies to replace DDT.

The EU supported the draft decision and particularly the emphasis on accelerating the identification and development of locally appropriate, cost-effective and safe alternatives.

The plenary adopted the draft decision.

PCBs: In the afternoon, the Secretariat presented a document on the PCB Elimination Network’s (PEN) efforts (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/27, UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/9-10, UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/36). UNEP Chemicals Branch noted a funding request to address PCBs.

The EU described its 1996 PCB legislation, calling for reduction by 2025 and elimination by 2028. 

MEXICO, with NEPAL, BELARUS, MOLDOVA, SEYCHELLES and ZAMBIA, supported the draft decision (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/6). MOROCCO and others lauded GEF, UNIDO and UNDP for support.

VENEZUELA, YEMEN and TOGO called for additional technical and financial assistance, with IRAN noting GEF has not responded to its funding request. GUINEA, with CÔTE D’IVOIRE, advised providing additional support for regional centres. GABON suggested consistent labeling. MACEDONIA and LIBERIA called for reliable inventories.

The CENTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENT urged cooperation with NGOs.

President Lissinger Peitz said the proposal will be considered again later in the meeting. 

BDEs and PFOS, its salts and PFOSF: In the morning, President Lissinger Peitz introduced the item and said delegates would focus first on the revised draft format for the submission of information on BDEs and then on evaluation of PFOS and PFOSF. The Secretariat introduced the revised draft format (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/7). The REPUBLIC OF KOREA expressed satisfaction with the Secretariat’s proposal. The EU suggested simplifying the format by replacing the requirement to report on BDE content in products with reporting on efforts regarding proper handling of BDE-containing products. NORWAY proposed deleting tables for provision of information on individual BDEs. BELARUS, supported by KAZAKHSTAN, urged technical assistance for conducting BDE assessments. The US warned about the impracticality of screening for individual BDEs in products. President Lissinger Peitz asked the Secretariat to revise the format, taking into account the suggestions of Norway and the EU, and to revise the draft decision accordingly.

On PFOS and PFOSF, the Secretariat reported on parties’ progress, including on alternatives (UNEP/POPS/COP.7/8, UNEP/POPS/COP.7/INF/11).

GHANA, for the AFRICAN GROUP, called for a more aggressive schedule for developing alternatives. YEMEN reminded parties that PFOS is still in use in the oil industry.The EU underscored that PFOS alternatives are available and indicated that some exemptions will expire. NORWAY, supported by SWITZERLAND, suggested gradually reducing exemptions and hoped that COP7 would progress on this issue.

IPEN, supported by GREENPEACE, cautioned that little data is available on the toxicity of PFOS alternatives.

President Lissinger Peitz suggested, and delegates agreed, to refer these issues to the contact group on listing of chemicals, with a mandate to focus on acceptable uses and alternatives. 

CONTACT GROUPS

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES: In the morning, the contact group considered a CRP on coordination between the regional and subregional centres of the BC and the SC. Concerns were raised on, inter alia, imprecise quotations of the omnibus decision on synergies; a proposed annual meeting of centre directors to enhance synergies; and access to adequate and timely finances for the activities of the regional centres. In the afternoon, the group discussed the challenges of evaluating SC regional and sub-regional centres and BC regional and coordinating centres, considering the need to update criteria for evaluation of performance and sustainability.

TECHNICAL MATTERS: The contact group met throughout the morning and early afternoon to discuss the TGs for PFOS, its salts and PFOSF wastes, and the TGs for pentaBDEs wastes.

LISTING OF CHEMICALS: This group met in the afternoon to discuss draft decisions on CNs, HCBD, PCP and PFOS. On HCBD, some developing countries supported listing in Annex A, but not Annex C. On PCP, one country and an observer questioned the POPRC’s process and whether PCP is subject to long-range environmental transport. On PFOS, delegates discussed whether removing allowable uses requires amending the Convention, a view with which many disagreed.

RC NON-COMPLIANCE: The contact group met in the evening to examine the Co-Chairs’ proposed compromise text regarding committee voting, but most delegations maintained their positions. Some supported taking all committee decisions by consensus, while others supported a return to the original text and deciding on the ratio for majority voting by the committee. One party advocated changing all references to “non-compliance” in the text to “off course in compliance.”

IN THE CORRIDORS

The sun was shining outside and delegates inside the CICG were feeling the heat as work progressed in five contact groups plus plenary sessions. While the SC COP got down to its core work on new and already-listed POPs, many delegates continued to work on agenda items opened in the joint sessions. Several underscored the link between the proposed listing of new chemicals and the simmering debates on financial and technical assistance. One participant said this is a “familiar pattern” and expressed hope that delegates will once again find a way to balance the diverse interests of parties and list the POPs. However, with only a day and a half left for the SC COP, several underscored that there may be little time to find a route to consensus.