It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods (persistent), become widely distributed geographically (long range transport), accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife (bioaccumulation), and have harmful impacts on human health or the environment (toxic).
Persistent organic pollutants
They are also called forever chemicals. They are resistant to environmental degradation through photolytic, chemical and biological processes. Thus, they accumulate in the environment causing adverse impacts on human health. To eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the environment, the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants was held in 2001. India is a signatory of the convention.
Proposed PERSISTENT ORganic Pollutants
1. Methoxychlor: It is a pesticide, used as a replacement for DDT against a wide range of pests including biting flies, houseflies, mosquito larvae, and cockroaches on field crops, vegetables, ornamentals, livestock & pets. It is very toxic to invertebrates and fish, has endocrine disrupting effects, has been detected in enviros of Arctic and Antarctica and human serum, adipose tissues, umblical cord and human breast milk.
2. UV-328: Used as an ultra-violet (UV) stabilizer in plastic products such as some personal care products, rubber and coatings. It is the first non-halogenated chemical to be considered to be added under Stockholm convention.
3. Dechlorane Plus: It is a chemical used as flame retardant in electrical wire, cable coatings, plastic roofing materials, connectors in TV and computer monitors. 4. Perfluorohexane Sulphonic Acid (PFHxS): They have high resistance to friction, heat, chemical agents, low surface energy and are used as a water, grease, oil and soil repellent They are group of industrial chemicals used in consumer products as a surfactant and sealant in carpets, leather, clothing, textiles, fire-fighting foams, papermaking, printing inks and non-stick cookware.
The Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. India ratified the convention in 2006.
Obligations under the Convention
Under the convention, the chemicals can be listed for Elimination (Annex-A), Restriction (Annex-B) or Unintentional production (Annex-C).
The implementation of the convention requires its parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of these POPs into the environment. Till date, 26 chemicals are listed as POPs under the Stockholm Convention. As of now, India has ratified only the 12 initially listed POPs. As a first step for the implementation of Stockholm Convention in India, a National Implementation Plan has been prepared. India is in process of ratification of selected newly listed POPs.
Union Cabinet approves ratification of 7 Organic Pollutants
Union Cabinet approved ratification of 7 Chemicals that are listed under Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants. Further, the cabinet delegated its powers of ratification to the union ministry of external affairs and the ministry of environment forest and climate change. These Ministries are already regulating the persistent organic pollutants under domestic regulations.
7 persistent organic pollutants
The 7 persistent organic pollutants that are currently being ratified by the government of India.
Chlordecone, Hexabromobiphenyl, Hexabromobiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa BDE), Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentab-romodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE), Pentachlorobenzene, Hexabromocyclododecane, Hexa-chlorobutadiene
These pollutants were listed in Stockholm convention already. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change notified regulation of Persistent organic pollutants rules. Under these rules, the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of these seven Chemicals were prohibited. This was completely domestic and not in accordance with Stockholm Convention.
Why is India ratifying now?
India has ratified the convention in 2006. However, India till date stays in an opt-out position following domestic rules on usage of POPs.
Opt-Out Position in Stockholm Convention
The convention allows its members to stay in such a position under article 25. According to the article, the amendments made to the convention shall not be enforced by its members unless an instrument of acceptance for ratification or approval is deposited with the UN. The cabinet approval will demonstrate India’s commitment towards international obligation in protecting the environment from POPs. This will in turn allow India to access the Global Environment Facility’s financial resources by updating National Implementation Plan.
STOCKHOLM +50 CONFERENCE
Stockholm+50 is a major international environmental meeting that marks the 50th anniversary of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm that first made the link between environment and poverty and placed it at the forefront of the international agenda.
1972 Stockholm Conference
UN Conference of Human Environment was the first UN conference on the environment.
The meeting’s outcome document – Stockholm Declaration – included several principles that still shape global environmental management and negotiations.
Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi participated in the conference and highlighted the need for addressing poverty.
Establishment of United Nations Environment Program and World Environment Day, which is held annually on 5th June.