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Summary of the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

24th-29th September, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24th-29th of September 2017 and intervened as appropriate[1]. We were pleased to see the COP1 reached consensus on pending matters from prior meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) which resulted in establishing an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

Our main priorities for COP1 included adoption of forms and guidance that was approved at INC 7, and addressing the issues of reporting, waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, effectiveness evaluation, and matters for future action, which included the following decisions.

  • Article 3 guidance on identifying mercury stocks, and the forms/instructions for complying with mercury trade consent and related certification requirements;
  • The product and process exemption forms and associated register of exemptions under Article 6 of the Convention; a registrar will be kept by the Secretariat and these will also be available to the public
  • Article 8 (air emissions) guidance on BAT/ BEP, options for existing facility control requirements, preparing emissions inventories, and selection of “relevant sources” within the specified source categories; and
  • The Guidance for preparing the ASGM National Action Plan (NAP) under article 7.

COP1 also saw significant progress concerning various other ZMWG priorities, including :

Reporting:          Forms were adopted for use by Parties to report back on the measures undertaken to meet Convention obligations and on the effectiveness of those measures.  In particular, ZMWG most welcomed the decision for a shorter reporting cycle for supply and trade, reporting per year data on a biennial basis. For other obligations, Parties will report every four years. It was also agreed that each Party will submit its first biennial report by 31 December 2019 and its first full report by December 2021. Parties are also encouraged to submit an electronic form,  and the Secretariat is requested to make the Parties electronic reports available.

Furthermore, it was agreed that Parties would provide access to their data related to mercury emissions, under Article 8. Parties would also provide the rational on how they plan to ensure that facilities responsible for at least 75% of the emissions from a source category are subject to controls.

Waste Thresholds:          COP1 established an intercessional work group to further elaborate on waste thresholds, building on a document introduced by Japan. As recommended by NRDC/ZMWG, the terms of reference for the working group were focused more on determining which mercury wastes warrant thresholds rather than assuming thresholds are appropriate for all wastes. The expert group will identify the types of waste that fall within the categories specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11, provide related information; prioritising the types of waste identified that are most relevant for the establishment of waste thresholds, and identify possible approaches to establishing any needed thresholds for those prioritised waste for consideration at COP2. We were also pleased to see COP1 approving the participation of civil society within the working group, another ZMWG priority.

Interim Storage:                             COP1 requested the Secretariat to undertake further revision of the draft guidelines through input from relevant experts, including technical experts from the Basel Convention and present a revised draft for consideration at COP2. Provisional use of the current draft guidelines is encouraged.

Effectiveness Evaluation:             COP1 adopted a draft road map for establishing arrangements both for providing comparable monitoring data and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework, as ZMWG had sought.  To that end an ad hoc group of experts was established including 25 experts nominated by the Parties – 5 per region, as well as 10 civil society experts, including NGOs, as observers.

Matters for Future Action (Article 3) - (Article 14):              Several matters were brought up for consideration. Under Article 3, trade in mercury compounds was one of several issued identified for future consideration by the COP. In regards to Article 14 – Capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer, Parties and other stakeholder were invited to submit relevant information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer for the Secretariat to compile and present at COP2.

Despite progress made, challenges remain, both related to the location and structure of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Secretariat will be temporarily located in Geneva, with further review of arrangements at COP2.

In summary, the final road map is now in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury pollution, but critical work remains.   ZMWG looks forward to a productive second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva 19-23 November 2018.   



[1] All ZMWG interventions are available on our website http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_content&;;view=article&id=309:unenvironment-minamata-mercury-cop1-24-29-september-2017-geneva-switzerland&catid=54:developments-main-category&Itemid=104

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Sunday, 18 September 2011 21:54

European EEB/ZMWG supported projects - Chlor-alkali campaign

In Europe, during the period 2006-2010, five NGOS have been supported respectively from Spain (Ecologistas en Accion), Italy (Legambiente), Czech Republic (Arnika), Germany (DNR)  and France (FNE) -  mainly focusing on mercury use in the chlor-alkali sector.

All projects were funded as part of the ZMWG/EEB Chlor-alkali campaign focusing, on eliminating mercury use from the chlor-alkali sector. These projects involved measuring mercury in the air outside chlor-alkali plants, by using a portable measuring instrument - Lumex - in each of the respective countries and to pressure government and industry to close down polluting plants.

The monitoring was part of a broader effort by ZMWG/ EEB and cooperating organisations to:-

  • create momentum in each country towards obtaining a national commitment for the early conversion of existing mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants, while ensuring that decommissioned mercury from these plants will be safely stored and not re-enter the market; and to
  • raise awareness on mercury issues in general.

Thus far through our EU Lumex campaigns, success has been achieved in, France, Spain and the Czech Republic. Results obtained were significant in many cases and helped NGOs raise awareness in their region and country, as discussed further below.

In France, the mercury levels recorded outside a mercury chlor-alkali plant Arkema in Jarrie were presented in a press conference by our NGO partner, France Nature Environment (FNE), and EEB in 2009. As a result, the French Ministry of Environment announced plans for further monitoring and revision of a national law, with the intended consequence being an earlier phase out date than the previously agreed 2020 closure date. Subsequently, the Ministry announced that the chlor-alkali plant (mentioned above) will convert to a mercury free process by 2013.

In Spain, our NGO colleagues Ecologistas en Accion (EeA) carried out a third round of measurements in 2010 and released their report. In response, the Spanish Ministry of Environment contacted EeA, stating that the findings appeared serious enough to request  a Public Prosecutor to open a legal file against the companies for not complying with their voluntary agreement. Also, legal actions are to be taken against Elnosa in Lourizan, by the association “Asociación pola Defensa da Ría” and the EeA is also trying to convince the Environment Ministry to sue these and other companies for non-compliance as well.

In the Czech Republic after Arnika's pressure, phase out dates for the two chlor-alkali plants in the country were set for 2012 and 2014 instead of the initial industry request for 2020.

In parallel, and to further support the Chlor-alkali campaign, the EEB/ZMWG commissioned a study to Concorde East/West SA on the Status of the Mercury cell chlor-alkali plants in Europe (October 2006). The study highlighted the impact of Europe’s chlor-alkali plants. It reveals growing evidence that mercury air emissions from the EU’s chlorine plants may be significantly under-reported, by as much as five times, and might even equal emission levels from the EU’s large coal-fired power stations. EEB/ZMWG has also issued its own report in October 2006  - Risky Business! No need for mercury in the chlorine industry - including independent air quality sampling results from around mercury-cell chlor-alkali factories in Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic, which found disturbingly high mercury levels around ten of the eleven plants monitored. 

A press release on the same issue has been sent out on 10 November 2006, revealing the publication of the two reports.

Eurochlor responded with a statement - on the 14 November 2006.

As  an answer to that, on the 23 November 2006 the EEB sent a letter to EuroChlor copied to EU Member State representatives and journalists

Furthermore, a survey was carried out in 2008, assessing the implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive in the chlor-alkali sector - EEB snapshot report: The European Chlor-alkali industry: Is national implementation of the IPPC Directive contributing to mercury-free industry?[ December 2008]

Because of these successes - and as part of the ZMWG global strategy, a Lumex machine has been purchased and is currently used by NGOs in developing countries.

See more details under the respective country's page: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain