A UN meeting over mercury pollution will see Sweden push for an international ban on mercury, an extension of the ban currently in place in the Nordic country.
The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC2) meets in Chiba, Japan on 24-28 January 2011. The first session was held in Stockholm in June 2010.
Sweden’s Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren said:
“Sweden’s fundamental position is that the use of mercury in products should be prohibited. However, it is not realistic to believe that the negotiations will progress that far as things stand now. There is no agreement on this line in the EU.
“Despite efforts to limit the use and emissions of mercury, there is still extensive deposition over Sweden. This is mainly due to long-distance air transfer from other parts of Europe, but also from other continents. A key issue in the ongoing negotiations is to persuade India and China to agree to adequate commitments,”
Sweden’s ban means that alternative techniques must be used in dental care, chemical analysis and the chlor-alkali industry, which all have traditionally used mercury.
The INC has a mandate to try to negotiate a convention that takes all sources of emissions into account, both in the mercury life cycle from mining to final disposal and when mercury is released through the burning of coal in power plants and industry.
The largest source of global mercury emissions to air is the burning of coal. The question of regulating mercury emissions to air from coal-fired power plants and industry will be addressed for the first time at INC2.