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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Breakthrough On Mercury

The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, has announced that negotiations will start on an international treaty to tackle mercury, approved by environment ministers from over 140 countries.  That's not the same as saying a treaty has been approved by 140 governments, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.  While the negotiations run their course, a voluntary Global Mercury Partnership will step in to start dealing with mercury now.  UNEP hopes to have an agreement signed and sealed by 2013. 

The official press release talks about "transition to a low-mercury world".  UNEP says that of the 6,000 tonnes of mercury entering the environment annually, some 2,000 tonnes comes from power stations and coal fires in homes.  Yet another reason to look seriously at alternative energy.

The announcement was applauded by environmental groups.  The Zero Mercury Working Group called it a "huge environmental victory" which was made possible due to a shift in the new US administration's position.  Hopefully we will see similar shifts on climate in the near future.