Swedish sustainable chemicals goals criticised

NGOs accuse National Chemicals Inspectorate of "abandoning" Esbjerg, Ospar, aims

A coalition of Swedish environmental NGOs yesterday accused that national chemicals agency of "abandoning" established government policy in new recommendations it made recently for goals to achieve sustainable development within one generation. The groups singled out the National Chemicals Inspectorate for criticism from 20 national agencies that issued similar reports (ENDS Daily 30 September).

"Sweden is the first country to set up environment goals of this kind," the NGOs said yesterday. "Still, this country suggests a national policy that will clearly worry many fellow countries within the EU".

In response, Greenpeace Nordic, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Sweden, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNF) and Friends of the Earth Sweden put forward their own hazardous chemicals "manifesto".

In it, the NGOs say that the chemicals inspectorate is "the only agency working with substantial goals," but that its report "lacks a clear strategy of how to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals".

"It is as if they have given up the goals set by the parliament," said Mikael Karlsson of the SNF. "This will not only cause negative effects on the Swedish environment, but will also have international implications."

The government's 15 environmental goals are based in part on the 1995 Esbjerg declaration by countries bordering the North Sea, in which signatories pledged to end the release of hazardous substances in one generation, which was followed last year by a similar commitment by parties of the Ospar convention. In the chemical inspectorate's report on achieving sustainable development, this goal is now mentioned as a "vision and a compass target," rather than a binding target, the NGOs complain.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace Nordic, tel: +46 8 702 7070; SNF, tel: + 46 54 700 2021.

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