Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Swiss, EU leaders hail mercury treaty
by Staff Writers
Geneva, Switzerland (UPI) Jan 23, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Swiss and other European leaders this week hailed the adoption of a U.N.-backed global treaty, known as the Minamata Convention, curbing releases of mercury.

The treaty was approved by 147 governments Saturday at a forum in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing praise from the European Union, Ireland, Switzerland and other European supporters.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury -- named after the Japanese city where the Chisso Corp. discharged mercury-tainted water into the ocean over several decades causing serious health problems -- calls for new controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.

Under its terms, the countries agreed to ban mercury in thermometers, batteries and energy-saving light bulbs by 2020, the U.N. Environment Program said.

Particularly affected is the artisanal and small-scale gold mining and refining industry, which is the largest source of mercury pollution worldwide and is booming in such countries as Thailand, Peru and Senegal due to high gold prices.

The Minamata Convention requires governments to develop national action plans to ban the most harmful forms of mercury use, promote mercury-free mining methods, protect children and women of childbearing age and seek to improve the health of miners.

Children employed in small-scale gold mining are at serious risk as they work with mercury or are present during the burning of the mercury-gold amalgam, the non-governmental advocacy group Human Rights Watch said.

Switzerland, which along with Norway initiated a push for the treaty in 2002, praised its passage. It has a particular interest because most of the world's raw gold passes through Swiss refineries, including 2,600 metric tons in 2011, reported.

Franz Perrez, head of the Swiss negotiating delegation in Geneva, said the adoption of the Minamata Convention "demonstrates the vitality of the U.N. system and the willingness of states to work together to find solutions to global problems."

Switzerland, Norway and Japan have pledged to fund the start of the convention, including $1.1 million from Switzerland, Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard announced.

"We have reached a robust, balanced and dynamic environmental agreement," added European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik.

"While the EU has an overarching strategy for controlling mercury at all stages of the mercury life cycle, such controls are unfortunately lacking in many parts of the world," he said. "This new treaty will bring benefits to all populations around the world, including the citizens of the EU given the long distances that mercury can travel in the air."

"The treaty which has now been agreed (upon) will improve the lives of many across the world, as well as protecting our precious environment," agreed Irish Environment Minister Phil Hogan, whose country holds the rotating EU Council presidency.

"Mercury has long-since been recognized as a dangerous substance that is particularly hazardous to vulnerable populations like pregnant women, children and indigenous communities that depend on local fish sources."

The new convention will be submitted for ratification by the states late this year.

"Everyone in the world stands to benefit from the decisions taken this week in Geneva -- in particular the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic and this generation of mothers and babies and the generations to come," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner declared.

"I look forward to swift ratification of the Minamata Convention so that it comes into force as soon as possible."


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Beijing vows efforts to fight pollution: state media
Beijing Jan 22, 2013
China's capital Beijing will strengthen measures to combat pollution, state media reported Tuesday, amid public anger over the dangerous air quality in the sprawling metropolis. Acting mayor Wang Anshun told the city's legislature that steps will include removing old vehicles from roads, shutting down coal-fired plants and planting more greenery, the official Xinhua news agency reported. ... read more

Canada to resettle up to 5,000 Iranian, Iraqi refugees

China factory fire hidden by thick smog: media

Allianz sticks to profit goal despite Hurricane Sandy hit

Hannover Re hit by 261-million-euro loss from Sandy

Novel sensor provides bigger picture

Dutch architect to build house with 3D printer

Researchers move Barkhausen Effect forward

Computer breakthrough: Code of life becomes databank

Water restored in Chile capital after day-long cut

Water shut off to Chilean capital: official

Cotton with special coating collects water from fogs in desert

Antibacterial agent used in common soaps found in increasing amounts in freshwater lakes

Chile expands Antarctica presence

Unprecedented glacier melting in the Andes blamed on climate change

Penguin head-cam captures bird's eye view of hunt

Melt ponds cause the Artic sea ice to melt more rapidly

Bacterial supplement could help young pigs fight disease

USDA Studies Confirm Plant Water Demands Shift with Water Availability

First Global Assessment of Land and Water 'Grabbing'

Cotton could be desert water source

Massive earthquakes came as surprise

A new type of volcanic eruption

Mass evacuations under way in flood-hit Mozambique

Mozambique begins evacuating 55,000 people hit by floods

Eritrean troops besiege mutineers in Asmara

Mugabe calls for peace as VP Nkomo buried

Hollande, in Gulf, defends France's Mali offensive

French marines in Mali wait for orders to join the fight

A relative from the Tianyuan Cave

Four-stranded 'quadruple helix' DNA structure proven to exist in human cells

Geneticist wants to revive Neanderthals

DNA database not so anonymous on the Internet: study

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement