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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs

BRUSSELS - 16 AUGUST 2017
TODAY’S ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ESTABLISHES THE FIRST NEW MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT IN OVER A DECADE.  THE ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP* HAS BEEN CALLING FOR A LEGALLY BINDING TREATY FOR OVER A DECADE AND WELCOMES THE NEW PROTOCOL.

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from 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.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

ENDS 

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Negotiations/COP1/tabid/5544/language/en-US/Default.aspx

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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Notes to the editors:

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 and small children. 

*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.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

 
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NGOs Call for CFL Phase Out, Urge retailers to follow IKEA’s lead by ending sales PDF Print
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 00:00

         

NGOs Call for CFL Phase Out, Urge retailers to follow IKEA’s lead by ending sales

Environmental NGOs are urging the European Commission (EC) to restrict sales of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), showing how they can be feasibly replaced with lighting emitting diode (LED) lamps. [1] They are also calling on retailers to follow IKEA’s lead by no longer selling CFLs. [2]

“LEDs have surpassed CFLs with respect to energy efficiency, lamp life and performance,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Project Manager for the European Environmental Bureau. “The time is ripe for an EC decision to take CFLs (<30W) off the shelves throughout the EU by 2018,” Lymberidi-Settimo added.

The EC accepted comments until mid-October on restricting electronic equipment that contains mercury (and other persistent toxic chemicals) from the market under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS.) [3]

The NGO comments opposed the EU lighting industry’s request to the EC to continue approving mercury exemptions for most categories of fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lighting equipment, including CFLs. This could result in mercury-added lamps continuing to be sold for as long as the RoHS allows, NGOs say. [4]

Since the US Energy Department's lifecycle analysis shows the LEDs far surpass CFLs in efficiency and other environmental impacts, advocates are also calling for CFL sales to end by 2018 in the US. [5]

“LEDs are environmentally preferable to CFLs from a lifecycle perspective,” said Alicia Culver, executive director of the Responsible Purchasing Network.  “LEDs use less energy, last three times longer than CFLs.  They are a practical and affordable alternative for most general purpose lighting applications because their price has been dropping rapidly while their performance has been dramatically improving.”

Workers can be exposed to mercury when manufacturing, transporting, installing, recycling or disposing of CFLs and other fluorescent lamps.  Pregnant women and toddlers may be exposed above safe levels when CFLs are broken in rooms without ventilation. [6]

“LEDs don’t contain mercury and are becoming more cost competitive, especially when energy use reduction and higher fluorescent lamp disposal costs are factored in,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project.  “Plus, compared with CFLs, there are 4 times as many LEDs available on the ENERGY STAR list.”

The EC is expected to make a decision in 2016.

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[1]www.eeb.org, www.mercurypolicy.org, www.responsiblepurchasing.org

[2]http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsitem/081015_IKEA_100_percent_LED

[3] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/rohs_eee/legis_en.htm

[4]http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&;view=file&id=198:environmental-ngos-response-to-stakeholder-consultation-2015-2-on-mercury-containing-lamps-exemption-1-4&Itemid=15   

[5]http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/2012_LED_Lifecycle_Report.pdf

[6]http://www.maine.gov/dep/homeowner/cflreport.html