Published Date: Jan 7, 2013
SDPI Press Release (January 7,2013)
Deliberating on negative impacts of Mercury on environment and health, the speakers at SDPI panel discussion said that our world deserve a zero Mercury now. They highlighted that final round of international treaty negotiations (INC-5) on Mercury in Geneva in mid-January 2013 are “Our World’s Last Chance” to cooperate in creating a strong international action on reducing Mercury emissions, trade and use.
They were speaking at panel discussion “Regulating Global Mercury Uses and Releases Control: Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee Fifth Meeting (INC-5) – Issues and Concerns for Pakistan” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with international Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) here on Monday.
Chairing the session, Eng. Asif Shuja Khan, Director General, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed that government is launching the National Mercury Reduction Program under which all the mercury sources in Pakistan would be indentified & an inventory would be made. He also appreciated SDPI for valuable work on the subject and invited SDPI to join EPA in the said program.
Dr. Mahmood A. Khawaja, SDPI Senior Advisor, gave detailed information about mercury, which is contained in coal and other minerals, is released into the air mainly from thermal power plants and metal-smelting facilities. He informed that In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly on environment adopted a decision to develop a legally binding instrument on mercury. So an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) was formed, whose fifth and final meeting is scheduled to be held in Geneva in mid-January 2013 to draft a treaty aimed at preventing mercury pollution.
He said that participants in Geneva will try to reach an agreement to limit the use of the toxic substance and its emissions into the atmosphere. However, emerging countries are seeking flexibility partly by allowing each nation to compile an emissions cut plan according to its own domestic circumstances. They are also asking for financial assistance from developed countries for the development of necessary technologies. He emphasized the need for mandatory provision for country national implementation plan (NIP).He added that the proposed treaty in Geneva may also call for limiting the use of mercury for certain products and at chemical plants, with an appropriate time period exemption prior to implantation of the treaty provisions.
He suggested that the technology is widely-available to manage mercury pollution from emissions controls to mercury-free alternatives for nearly all mercury-containing products and industrial processes. What’s needed is the political will to make the necessary commitments to safeguard our children and future generations from mercury exposure.
Syed Zaheer Ahmed Gillani, Executive Director/NPM, Ministry of Climate Change suggested that Pakistan should take position at INC-5 that our compliance with obligations relating to control measures are conditional to developed nations compliance with obligations relating to provisions of financial and technical assistance as well as technology transfer. He added that while Pakistan, in principle supports elimination/phase out of all hazardous substances, including mercury, there is need to ensure that international decisions do not create sudden shocks and losses to our Industry, agriculture, defense, business and Trade. He also briefed that efforts are being made at global level to devise effective instruments for elimination of mercury use in products and processes used in industry and agriculture. “Currently the International community is engaged in extensive debate about options for improved international governance”, he added.