[QODLink]
Europe

Nations agree first mercury-emissions treaty

More than 140 countries at UN meeting in Geneva adopt legally binding international treaty to reduce mercury emissions.
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2013 11:29
Greenpeace staged protests over the pollution of Indonesia's Citarum River with mercury and lead [File/EPA] [EPA]

More than 140 nations have adopted the first legally-binding international treaty aimed at reducing mercury emissions, UN officials have said.

The UN Environment Programme said the treaty was adopted after all-night negotiations that capped a week of talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

A signing ceremony will be held later this year, and then nations must begin formally ratifying the treaty before it comes into force several years from now.

"To agree on global targets is not easy to do," UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said. "There was no delegation here that wished to leave Geneva without drafting a treaty."

The agreement will for the first time set enforceable limits on emissions of mercury, a highly toxic metal that is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, and exclude, phase out or restrict some products that contain mercury.

But some supporters of the treaty said they were not satisfied with the agreement.

Joe DiGangi, a science adviser with advocacy group IPEN, which works for the elimination of persistent organic pollutants, said that while the treaty is "a first step," it is not tough enough to achieve its aim of reducing overall emissions.

For example, DiGangi said, there is no requirement that each country create a national plan for how it will reduce mercury emissions.

The draft agreement that was issued before the meeting committed countries to phase out mercury thermometers, some kinds of light bulbs and small "button" batteries, with 2018 the earliest possible deadline.

236

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
The organisation is struggling to its relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list