Toxic-free environment, circular economy and biodiversity: EU welcomes outcomes of three UN COPs on chemicals and waste, and pushes COP15 negotiations towards a new global deal for nature and people

The EU took part in meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in Geneva from 6 to 17 June. The EU made key contributions to several important decisions adopted at this ‘Triple COP’ that contribute to sound management of chemicals and waste. These include a milestone decision under the Basel Convention to control global trade of electronic waste and prevent its uncontrolled dumping. The EU supported work on plastic waste under the same Convention, and successfully proposed that it starts to develop global standards on the management of used tyres, an important source of microplastics. Under the Stockholm Convention, it was decided to have PFHxS – a substance from the PFAS family, known as ‘forever chemicals’ – listed as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP), allowing for its inclusion in the evolving EU rules on POPs, currently in trilogues. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The outcomes of this triple COP show that the EU and its international partners are committed to secure a toxic-free and circular future for us all. Now more than ever, global cooperation and multilateralism are crucial. The EU is determined to continue to lead the way internationally and work with all countries towards ambitious outcomes in line with the EU’s commitments under the European Green Deal.” With text proposed by the EU, the Stockholm Convention also renewed calls to eliminate PCBs, chemicals widely present in old electrical equipment and used as oils, by 2025. The Basel Convention further adopted state of the art guidelines on the management of mercury waste, lead-acid batteries waste, or waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Based on an EU proposal, it will also start work on the management of batteries other than lead-acid batteries, notably lithium batteries, which are increasingly important for our efforts to achieve climate neutrality and digitalisation. EU’s efforts internationally continue this week, with the final round of negotiations ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) kicking off tomorrow. The Open-ended Working Group will meet in Nairobi from 21 to 26 June to finalize progress on the development of the post2020 global biodiversity framework. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Commission negotiates on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Commission’s commitment to protecting and restoring biodiversity in Europe and globally is set out in the 2020 European Biodiversity Strategy, a key component of theEuropean Green Deal.