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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 Setback for health: EU Parliament shirks banishing mercury from measuring devices
Setback for health: EU Parliament shirks banishing mercury from measuring devices PDF Print
Tuesday, 14 November 2006 01:00
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(Brussels, 14 November 2006) Anti-mercury health and environment NGOsi strongly deplore today’s vote by the European Parliament, delaying restrictions on measuring devices containing mercury, such as barometers and thermometers. . “Sadly, Parliament has yielded to pressure from a small group of barometer makers”, said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “MEPs have allowed the whims of a tiny market sector to trample the much wider imperative of protecting people’s health and the environment. We will call upon the Commission and Council to reject Parliament´s position.”

The NGOs see making new barometers which contain mercury as irresponsible. . The alternative of controlling their manufacture does not prevent the danger from breaks or leaks that exists during the instrument’s entire lifespan.

“This is a deeply disappointing outcome”, said a representative from Health & Environment Alliance. “Dozens of tonnes will continue to enter the market and endanger people’s health and the environment, especially during leakage and breakage”, said Karolina Ruzickova, from Health Care Without Harm Europe.

The NGOs condemned Parliament’s vote, which waives earlier moves to restrict mercury- containing devices for consumer and healthcare use. Now a first reading agreement for a quick adoption of the directive cannot be reached and this means that very likely the whole issue will have to be brought under the REACH legislation. Because after REACH is adopted, a ban on mercury in specific applications will need to pass through the REACH legal procedures, leading to a serious delay of a possible ban. Meanwhile, many hundreds of those devices will break and leak and contaminate the environment. “Parliament has foolishly missed a vital and immediate opportunity to continue the steady progress towards totally removing mercury from measuring devices, although mercury-free alternatives are currently available. As a result, consumers, health workers, patients and the environment remain exposed to this source of mercury contamination”, said Lisette van Vliet, from Health and Environment Alliance.

The NGOs now call on the Commission to swiftly propose measures as soon as the ‘REACH’ chemicals law is adopted to reduce mercury contamination as quickly as possible.

 

For more information:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Tel +32 496 532818, Karolina Ruzickova, Health Care Without Harm Europe, Tel: +420 222 782 808

Lisette van Vliet, Health and Environment Alliance (formerly EPHA Environment Network (EEN)), Tel: +32 2 234 3645

Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project/ Zero Mercury Working Group, Tel: +1 802 223 9000 www.zeromercury.org; www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org, www.mercurypolicy.org

See also letter sent to the Members of the European Parliament: http://www.zeromercury.org/EU developments/1 311 06NGOsLetterLimitationsPlenary.pdf

i Health and Environmental NGOs include:

Health and Environment Alliance, http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health,

environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organizations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 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 Zero Mercury Working Group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non­governmental 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.”

Also supported by NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS), South Africa (groundWork).