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[greenyes] EU Moves on Mercury w/o Bush
Governments agree global action on mercury
Environment Daily 1830, 28/02/05
World governments last week agreed increased efforts to reduce
mercury-related environmental and health risks at a session of the UN
environment programme (Unep) governing council.  Environmentalists
deplored governments' failure to agree to start drafting an
international treaty on the toxic metal.

A decision on chemicals adopted at the meeting's close last Friday
calls on governments and the private sector to take "immediate action"
to reduce risks of mercury in products and production processes.  It
urges the creation of new partnerships to reduce mercury pollution.

These are likely to include efforts to cut emissions from coal-fired
power stations, chlor-alkali plants, gold mining, and products such as
batteries, household appliances and thermometers.  During the session,
the US government pledged over US$1m during 2005 to support Unep's
existing mercury programme and the "partnership approach".

Along with Norway and Switzerland, the EU went to Nairobi urging
agreement to start work on a legally binding rules on curbing mercury.
America led countries opposed, backed by Australia and Japan and also
the G77 group of developing countries.

Despite its negotiating reverse there is little sign of EU
disappointment over the result. One European official described the
outcome as positive and accepted US criticisms that, in practice, there
is not the capacity to start treaty negotiations.  In any case, the
option of a treaty remains on the table for discussion at Unep's next
governing council in two years' time, the official noted.

Environmental groups on both sides of the Atlantic were less happy.
They accused the USA of hijacking the process to promote partnerships
that, "based on past experience... do not produce meaningful results."
But the outome was welcomed by chlor-alkali industry body the World
chlorine council.

Among other governing council outcomes, the chemicals decision calls
for a scientific review of long-range environmental transport of lead
and cadmium to inform the need for global action.

Discussions on international environmental governance made no headway
at all, with the USA, Russia and Japan continuing to oppose EU calls
for Unep to become a World environment organisation with similar status
to the World trade organisation.


Peter Anderson, President
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