Monday, January 21, 2013

UN clinches global deal on cutting mercury emissions

Tom Miles and Emma Farge in Planet Ark: More than 140 countries have agreed on the first global treaty to cut mercury pollution through a blacklist of household items and new controls on power plants and small-scale mines, the United Nations said on Saturday. The legally-binding agreement aims to phase out many products that use the toxic liquid metal such as batteries, thermometers and some fluorescent lamps, through banning global import and exports by 2020.

The treaty will require countries with coal-fired power plants such as India and China to install filters and scrubbers on new plants and to commit to reducing emissions from existing operations to prevent mercury from coal reaching the atmosphere.

...The deal also includes measures to reduce mercury use in small-scale gold mining, although stopped short of an all-out ban. Gold prices near $1,700 a metric ton have spurred the use of mercury as a catalyst to separate gold from its ore.

...The Minamata Convention on Mercury - named after the Japanese city where people were poisoned in the mid-20th century from industrial discharges of mercury - needs ratification from 50 countries and is expected to be formalized later this year....

No comments: