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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)

 
Home Press Releases EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2...
EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2016) on the report on mercury by the MEP Rapporteur Eck, GUE, DE PDF Print
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 13:19

 



EEB Reaction to the exchange of view in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (12 July 2016) on the report on mercury by the MEP Rapporteur Eck, GUE, DE

The Rapporteur presented his report which strengthens the European Commission’s proposal and goes well beyond the Minamata Convention.

The shadow rapporteurs presented their views: Michel Dantin (EPP), Massimo Paolucci (S&D), Julie Girling (ECR), Anneli Jaatteenmaki (ALDE), Michele Rivasi (Greens), Mireille D’Ornano (ENF). Other MEPs intervened including Auyso, Florenz, Mikolasik, Grossetete (all from EPP).

This is asummary on the views expressed as above on the main technical issues:

  1. The export ban should be expanded to include a wider list of mercury compounds. This was supported by GUE, but not all parties expressed views on this.

  2. A full import ban on mercury was supported by GUE, the Greens; ALDE and S&D supported a full import ban unless the mercury in question is destined for disposal. The EPP and ECR would support the EC’s approach (import ban only from non-Parties to the Convention, or under specific conditions).

  3. The export ban on mercury-added products should be aligned with the restrictions applied within the EU - this view was supported by GUE, S&D, the Greens, ALDE, the EPP and ECR as well as the EC expressed concerns against this approach.

  4. Mercury in dentistry should be phased out as soon as possible, and for children and pregnant women even sooner. This was supported by GUE, S&D, the Greens and the ECR. Concerns were raised about the scientific evidence supporting such a decision by the EPP, ALDE and the EC.

  5. Mercury used in processes including alchoholates needs to be phased out. This was generally supported by all parties, though there may be some concerns since not all parties expressed their views on this.

  6. Liquid mercury waste needs to be solidified before disposal. This was supported by all parties. Some difference of opinion still exists on whether the solidified product should be disposed in salt mines (GUE, S&D) or in above ground facilities (Greens). EPP representative had split views on this last point.

  7. The temporary storage of mercury waste for a few years will be needed considering the available capacity for solidification/stabilization. This was also supported by all parties

The EEB is very happy to see that all parties expressed the need to strengthen the EU regulation. Such an approach will allow the EU to keep its leadership position and to adequately ensure the protection of human health and the environment while sending a clear and unequivocal signal to other countries working towards the same objectives.

The message is also very clear with respect to the export of mercury-added products. Most parties agreed that double standards should be avoided to ensure that these products do not end up in countries with no or less stringent regulations for the management of mercury. Since alternatives exist, such a measure will promote mercury-free markets and drive mercury free product prices down.

A rather strong message was also echoed with respect to the use of mercury in dental amalgams. It seems that most parties are in favour of a phase out since this is the most cost-effective way to prevent dental mercury pollution. Mercury-free dental restorations are available, affordable, effective and preferred by most EU citizens.

It seems to be also clear that no liquid mercury waste should be disposed of before it is first solidified/stabilized, a step to the right direction for safer handling and disposal.

For more information:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, 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 , T:+32 2 2891301

EEB full comments http://bit.ly/29Lb8zl , NGOs letter on phasing out mercury from dentistry http://bit.ly/29Albrr, Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry http://bit.ly/29urWGh