Government of Canada Initiates Ratification of Stockholm Convention Amendments

(No. 192 - June 16, 2010 - 6:45 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment, today announced Canada’s intention to ratify the decisions made at the May 2009 Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to add nine new chemical substances to the list of those subject to global controls. Minister Cannon tabled the amendments today in the House of Commons to signal the Government of Canada’s commitment to ratifying the amendments.

“The Arctic is a priority for the Canadian government, and the Stockholm Convention amendments are an example of Canada playing a leadership role on Arctic issues internationally and at home,” said Minister Cannon. “Persistent organic pollutants are known to accumulate in the North. Canada is working with its international partners to achieve further global reductions and to assist developing countries in making reductions in the levels of POPs.”

“I am pleased that the Government of Canada is proceeding toward the ratification of the Stockholm Convention amendments today before the House of Commons,” said Minister Prentice. “Canada was the first country to ratify the Stockholm Convention, and we continue to be an active participant. Our experts played a leading role in the scientific process and the international negotiations for the addition of nine new chemical substances. We are committed to international efforts to protect human health and the environment from POPs.”

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, established in 2001, is a global and legally binding agreement to protect health and the environment from pesticides, industrial chemicals, and unintentional POPs. To date, 169 countries are party to the Convention.

With ratification of the COP4 amendments, nine additional chemical substances that can pose risks to human health or the environment will be subject to global controls. Canada has already taken significant domestic action on these new substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Pest Control Products Act.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874

Frédéric Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Enquiries
Environment Canada
819-934-8008 or 1-888-908-8008

Public Enquiries
Environment Canada
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Backgrounder - Amendments to the Stockholm Convention

Canada is moving toward ratification of the amendments to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Nine new POPs will be added to the list of controlled substances: alpha hexachlorocyclohexane (alpha-HCH), beta hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH), chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl (HBB), lindane, commercial octabromodiphenyl ether (c-octaBDE), commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether (c-pentaBDE), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

Canada was the first country to ratify the Convention, in 2001, when it applied to 12 POPs. There are currently 169 parties to the Convention.

Canada has implemented domestic controls and pursued international action on POPs through such initiatives as the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1972), UN Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Protocol on POPs (1998), the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (1991) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (1994).

The Arctic Council has undertaken scientific work that has identified pollution risks and their impact on Arctic ecosystems. This work has contributed to international agreements on pollution control, including the Stockholm Convention. Canada was a major contributor to the Arctic Council’s work.

Canada has already taken significant steps to reduce domestic sources of all nine of the newly added POPs through federal action under the Chemicals Management Plan, using the Pest Control Products Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and related regulations.

Canada played a leading role in the technical review of the nine newly added POPs and in the negotiations that led to their addition to the Convention.