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22 September 2017

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PRESS RELEASE: 

New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland


Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.
 
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org

www.zeromercury.org

Contacts:


Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.



 

Home Press Releases EU Commission asserts leadership in addressing Global Mercury Pollution
EU Commission asserts leadership in addressing Global Mercury Pollution PDF Print
Monday, 31 January 2005 01:00
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[Brussels 31/1/2005] Environment and health groups welcomed the adoption of the awaited Community Strategy on Mercury, presented today by the Commission. The Strategy is a step forward at EU and Global level, giving a clear sign that the Commission is prepared to take significant measures to reduce Mercury emissions, supply and demand -not only at EU but also global level- for the protection of the environment and human health.

One point of major importance in the strategy is the intention to phase out and eliminate EU Mercury exports by 2011. “We regret that the date has been pushed back in comparison to earlier drafts, but it is very important that the Commission as a whole has come forward with a proposal, showing Europe’s clear responsibility for its Mercury trade with the rest of the world and especially the developing countries, where Mercury is often used in a much less regulated way”, said John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General. NGOs welcome as well that, consistent with the export ban, measures will also be adopted to ensure the safe storage of Mercury from decommissioned chlor-alkali production facilities, again asserting EU leadership to remove excess Mercury supplies from the global marketplace.

Other significant action intended for 2005 includes: a) a restriction in the marketing of non­electrical or electronic measuring and control equipment for consumer use and healthcare, b) considering options for abatement of Mercury emissions from small coal combustion, and c) a review of the implementation of existing waste regulations with respect to dental amalgam waste management and ensure correct application.

Despite the intended Mercury export ban, the NGOs caution that greater specificity will be required to adequately implement the phase-out of Mercury production at the world’s largest mine in Almaden, Spain. Stricter measures should also have been proposed regarding emissions from larger coal fired combustion plants because of the significance of this emissions source both within Europe and globally. This source is too great to rely simply on sulphur dioxide controls to adequately reduce Mercury emissions.

With respect to strategic actions at international level, the NGOs commend the Commission for supporting all ongoing international activities, while proposing other action, including pilot projects to reduce emissions from coal burning in countries such as China, India and Russia. The Commission’s advocacy of a global phase-out of Mercury primary production, encouraging other countries to stop surpluses re-entering the market, under an initiative similar to the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances, should become the central argument to the UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi in February. At this meeting, measures aimed at limiting the impact of Mercury and its compounds on human health and environment are to be discussed and decided.

“To that end we call upon the Council and the Member States to keep at least this level of
commitment contained in the E.C. Mercury Strategy, and to give immediate support to


concrete parallel track measures to substantially reduce Mercury demand and releases over the next five years at the upcoming UNEP global debate,” said Michael Bender of the Ban Mercury Working Group.

Genon Jensen (Director EPHA Environment Network) said ´The public health community welcomes the Commission’s Strategy that puts awareness raising and education programmes to inform the public of the dangers of Mercury exposure as a key element and prioritises reducing exposure to vulnerable populations not just here in Europe, but globally.´ She continued, ‘Implementation and resourcing of the actions will be essential.’

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife. High doses can be fatal to humans, but even relatively low doses have serious adverse effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Mercury has no respect for national or regional boundaries as it travels great distances through the atmosphere. It has contaminated both European and global food supplies at levels which pose a significant risk to human health, according to medical and public health professionals around the world.

For more information http://www.eeb.org/activities/Mercury/041130-Final-Letter-on-Mercury-to-EC.pdf. Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text14496 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel: +32 2 2891301;

Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace, http://eu.greenpeace.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text99156 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel :+44 1392 263782;

Christian Farrar-Hockley, EEN,www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text42857 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel : +32.2333875;

Michael Bender,Ban Mercury Working Group,, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/)

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