The European Commission has hailed a UN agreement that will establish the first global treaty to cut mercury pollution. Specific household items will be blacklisted and new controls on power plants and small-scale mines will be introduced, the United Nations said on Saturday (19 January).
Thanks to a dramatic shift in the position of the United States, environmental ministers from over 140 countries agreed to begin negotiating a treaty to control global mercury pollution last week at a meeting of the UN Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya.
EU Ministers in the Competitiveness Council yesterday (25 September) adopted a regulation banning all exports of mercury from the EU in 2011, wrapping up a key part of a European strategy to limit emissions of the toxic heavy metal into the environment.
In a move broadly acclaimed by health and environmental groups, the European Parliament voted yesterday to back a compromise deal to ban all mercury exports from the EU in 2011 and improve the safety of surplus storage.
The European Parliament's environment committee voted on Wednesday (26 March) to ban all imports and exports of mercury in the EU by 2010, reinstating earlier demands which had already been rejected by member states in June last year.
The European Parliament has endorsed a proposed ban on the sale of mercury-containing devices for domestic use, such as thermometers, by 2010. Antique instruments and mercury-containing blood pressure devices used by medical professionals will be exempt.
Remaining largely faithful to the Commission's original proposals, on 28 June 2007 EU environment ministers reached political agreement on substances in EU surface waters and on the issue of mercury storage and export restrictions, putting them on a collision course with Parliament, which had called for stricter EU standards.
Parliament's Environment Committee, on 5 June, voted to reject a permament exemption for mercury-containing barometers and other measuring devices from a wider ban on the substance in the EU. The vote signals the likely approval of the text by the EP plenary and the Council.
The European Parliament has backed a draft directive banning mercury in thermometers and other measuring devices. But a derogation for barometers won by the British Conservatives has infuriated environmental NGOs.