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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 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).