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UNEP Press release: Towards a global treaty on mercury

February 22nd, 2011

The realisation of a global treaty on mercury is gaining momentum following a meeting of over 120 states in Japan. Governments met last week in the city of Chiba to continue negotiations on creating a global treaty on mercury and help reduce sources of mercury pollution.

The meeting concluded that:

  • the presence of mercury in the environment still remains of global concern;
  • there is a need to reduce risks to human health and the environment from mercury;
  • dealing with major emissions of mercury from industry, in particular from coal combustion for power generation, the phasing out of mercury use in  products, encouraging small-scale gold miners to end the use of mercury amalgamation, and the management of mercury waste and contaminated sites remains a challenge;
  • there is need to continue to allow mercury to be used in products and processes subject to exemptions, and such mercury needs to be clearly defined to distinguish it from mercury waste;
  • the disposal of mercury is particularly difficult; and
  • although coal combustion is the largest source of mercury emissions to air some Nations noted during the negotiations the importance of any controls not restricting their economic development and indicating their unwillingness to consider binding mercury reduction targets.

The INC2 meeting ended with the committee setting a mandate for UNEP to develop a draft text of the comprehensive and suitable approach to mercury for consideration at INC3 to be held in Africa in October 2011.

Full text of Press release available at UNEP website.

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