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A Toxics-Free Future

ENDS: UK submits industry lobbyist comments to Stockholm Convention expert committee

This week in Rome, the Stockholm Convention POPs Review Committee is considering its final recommendations to governments about listing flame retardant, DecaBDE, in the Stockholm Convention for global elimination. The auto and aerospace industries have pressured the Committee to exempt certain uses of DecaBDE. In addition, the UK government has pushed for sweeping exemptions for uses in military vehicles and airplanes.[1]

Surprisingly, an IPEN examination of submissions to the Committee revealed that the UK government submitted virtually identical comments as the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industry association (ADS).[2] For example, the UK and ADS submissions identically claim that the, “cost and time required to re-certify a change of flame retardant is substantial and we believe presents a disproportionate impact on our industry.”

IPEN Science and Technical Advisor, Joe DiGangi, said that, “Promoting industry lobbyist comments as a government submission is a clear conflict of interest, disrespectful to the UK public, and completely undermines the credibility of the government.”

After the story appeared in ENDs Europe[3] on 20 September, a UK government spokesperson claimed that the reason the government submitted industry lobbyist comments was “an administrative error.” On 21 September, the United Nations Secretariat notified participants at the POPs Review Committee meeting in Rome that the UK had withdrawn their request for DecaBDE exemptions.

The finding illustrates the outsized influence industry lobbyists have on public policy. “Governments have a responsibility to their public – and that includes going beyond a narrow industry sector interest and making the civil society part of decision-making,” noted DiGangi.

The POPs Review Committee continues its deliberations this week and is expected to finalize its final recommendations for listing DecaBDE on Friday, 23 September.