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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 USA joins EU in banning mercury exports; Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort
USA joins EU in banning mercury exports; Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort PDF Print
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 01:00
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U.S. Joins EU in Banning Mercury Exports

Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort

The U.S. has joined the European Union in setting a date certain to ban their mercury exports, thereby reducing the supply of commodity mercury into the world market. Environmental groups in the U.S. and around the world applauded the broad bi-partisan support of the legislation, which was introduced by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate, and in the House by Representative Tom Allen (D-ME),.

"Neither mercury nor the fish we eat recognizes federal boundaries," Linda Greer, Director of the Health Program at NRDC, said. "Passage of this legislation banning the export of mercury is a great victory for the health of people in America and all over the world. It will curb the flow of mercury into global commerce, keeping it out of our tuna and other fish.”

In independent actions taken in late September, the EU adopted a mercury export ban that takes effect in 2011, while earlier this month Congress passed legislation to ban U.S. mercury exports by 2013. U.S. President George Bush signed the legislation it into law yesterday.

“Combined with a similar ban adopted just last month by the European Union, this new U.S. law will significantly reduce the amount of mercury use and pollution in the developing world,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator of the European Environmental Bureau’s Zero Mercury Campaign.

The Mercury Export Ban Act, S. 906, also prohibits the sale of mercury by the U.S. government, prohibits the transfer of elemental mercury by Federal agencies and requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to designate and manage an elemental mercury long-term disposal facility.

The U.S. and the EU are among the top exporters of commodity mercury. Between 40 and 50% of the estimated 3,800 metric tons of annual global trade in mercury passes through the EU and the U.S. Neither the U.S. nor the EU mines mercury anymore. Instead, most mercury supplies come from recycling of mercury products such as thermostats, as well as decommissioned mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants. Excess mercury is sold on the world market by commodity brokers.

Trading mercury is not like trading potato chips,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. We’ve got to stop this circle of poison, where over 1000 tons of mercury are used by 15 million gold miners in 50 developing countries, exposing themselves, the global environment and the world’s fish supply to this dangerous neurotoxin. With export bans passed in the EU and now the U.S., momentum is building a global mercury trade ban.”

Gold-mining sites are extensively contaminated with mercury around the globe. Airborne mercury is also a transcontinental pollutant that ends in waterways, contaminating fish that end up on dinner tables the world over.


“We are optimistic that the global community is well on its way towards establishing a treaty to control mercury trade and pollution, and effectively safeguard the fish we eat from this poison,” said Richard Gutierrez, of the Philippine NGO, Ban Toxics.

Lawmakers came up with the plan to have DOE accept the liquid metal for storage after they consulted with the industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, National Mining Association and The Chlorine Institute; environmental groups; and ECOS, a coalition of states’ top environmental regulators.

Contacts: Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, mercurypolicy@aol .com, Tel: +802-223-9000/Mobile: +802 249 8576

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign, European Environmental

Bureau:, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 496 532818, +32 2 2891301;

Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Linda Greer, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text21570 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +202 289 6868

For More Information:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081014-9.html http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1399&format http://www.iisd.ca/chemical/merc2/

http://www.mercurypolicy.org

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. More information on NRDC is available at its Web site: www.nrdc.org.

The European Environmental Bureau, www.eeb.org, is a federation of more than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Mercury Policy Project works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests. More information is available on our website at: www.mercurypolicy.org.

The Zero Mercury Working Group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 56 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”