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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

Home Press Releases Timid EU ministers shirk tough restrictions on mercury devices
Timid EU ministers shirk tough restrictions on mercury devices PDF Print
Friday, 20 April 2007 01:00

(Brussels, 20 April 2007) - EU ministers at the Justice & Internal Affairs Council yesterday adopted a common position on restrictions to mercury-containing measuring devices. The position avoided including some mercury-intensive instruments for healthcare, which disappointed health and environment NGOs, who have called for blood pressure instruments and barometers to be immediately included. “Sadly, the Council lacked the nerve to take a decisive step in favour of safer measuring devices”, said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “They have shied away from ordering existing, safer alternatives and safer technology to be used for some important devices, which can present a serious risk of mercury contamination when they break or are disposed of.”

Anti-mercury NGOs believe the Council has ducked the issue by avoiding any immediate restriction on specific professional healthcare equipment, like blood pressure instruments. The Council has instead sought a report from the European Commission about alternatives to these instruments, which is to be issued two years after the remaining restrictions on thermometers have gone into effect. “This is better than the Commission’s initial proposal, but it’s not enough” said Lisette van Vliet, of Health Care Without Harm Europe. “Mercury-free blood pressure devices are widely available commercially, are approved by recognised professional bodies and already used in European hospitals, even for difficult diagnoses”.

On barometers, the Council undercut the Commission’s proposal, by allowing two years’ grace for manufacturers to continue using mercury. “It’s plainly irresponsible to continue making new barometers that contain mercury”, said Elena Lymberidi, “Aside from the enormous health and environmental risks when barometers break, (and barometers use nearly a thousand times

more mercury than thermometers), it’s a pointless delay. Europe’s few barometer makers generally already make mercury-free barometers, along with many other types of measuring instruments. Immediately banning mercury barometers simply doesn’t threaten their business! 1”

The NGOs are now calling on the European Parliament to restrict mercury use in all measuring and control equipment as soon as possible when re-examining the legislative proposal in its second reading.

For more information:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Tel +32 2 2891301 Lisette van Vliet, Health Care Without Harm Europe, Tel: +32 2 234 3645

Note to journalists

See also letter sent to the Members of the Competitiveness Council, on 1st December 2006. http://www.zeromercury.org/EU developments/061 201 NGOs Letter to Comp Min EquipDir.pdf

Mercury, particularly in the form of methylmercury, and even in relatively low doses, can have serious adverse neurodevelopmental impacts. The effects of low-dose exposure on children's mental development is analysed in Grandjean, P, Landrigan P J, Developmental neurotoxity of industrial chemicals”, The Lancet, 8 Nov. 2006 available at http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/06tl9094page.pdf

1 http://www.barometerworld.co.uk/default.htm (UK), http://www.comitti.com/ (UK), http://www.russell-scientific.co.uk/ (UK), http://www.barometers.com/index.htm (Belgium), http://www.rosebarometers.nl