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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 “Saga is over”: mercury in most measuring devices will soon be history
“Saga is over”: mercury in most measuring devices will soon be history PDF Print
Tuesday, 10 July 2007 01:00
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(Brussels/Strasbourg, 10 July, 2007) - Europe’s leading campaigners against mercury, the European Environmental Bureau, the Health & Environment Alliance, and the Zero Mercury Working Group, today warmly welcomed the European Parliament’s vote, which finally confirms that mercury barometers will not be exempted from a wider ban on household devices which contain the toxic metal.

“The saga’s over at last! We’ll soon have legislation banning the use of mercury from most non­electronic measuring devices,” said Elena Lymberidi of EEB's Zero Mercury campaign. “Reason has finally triumphed, and Parliament has come round to including mercury barometers in the ban. This latest move is a major boost in protecting our health.”

Thermometers and all other measuring devices for domestic use will soon be mercury-free. Barometers using the metal will be banned two years later, and by then the Commission will report on the availability of reliable, safer, mercury-free alternative measuring devices, especially blood pressure devices used in hospitals and doctors’ practices. The European Commission had initially proposed only banning mercury from fever thermometers and other measuring devices1 for public use, and fever thermometers used professionally. Professional measuring devices, such as blood pressure devices in hospitals, could therefore still be used.

“Parliament’s vote is a huge relief to everyone who wants to get rid of mercury,” said Lisette van Vliet of the Health & Environment Alliance. ”This is a good step forward. But it’s a pity that blood pressure devices for professional use which contain mercury haven’t been banned, because safe, precise and reliable alternatives are available. The Commission's impact assessment should have already considered that.”

The NGOs urge the Commission now to proceed swiftly with its report on the availability of reliable, safer alternatives, and a legislative proposal to extend the restriction to other mercury-containing professional devices, which will reduce the risk of mercury exposure in hospitals and laboratories, and other specialist workplaces.

 

For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign:, www.zeromercury.org, www.eeb.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301; Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health & Environment Alliance: www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text51607 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 234 3645

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer, EEB: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

Notes for editors: See our letters of:-

5 July  http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070705NGOlettertoMEPsPlenaryMeasrgEquip.pdf 4 June

http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070604NGOsonENVIMEPSVoteLimitations.pdf 30 May

http://www.noharm.org/details.cfm?ID=1631&type=document

7 May

http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070507NGOscommentsMeasDevicesENVIonCCP.pdf And related press releases of September 2006

http://www.zeromercury.org/press/140906 Mercury EP Env Cttee Press Release.pdf and 14 November 2006: http://www.zeromercury.org/press/061114NGOsPR-Plenary-Equipment.pdf

1 Manometers, barometers, and sphygmomanometers (blood pressure measuring devices).