UNEP Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee Meeting 4 on the Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) for Mercury – Days 3, 4 and more

Friday 29 June – Day 3 of INC4

Work continues in earnest with numerous contact groups and will continue through the weekend. Perhaps the most fervent arguments of Day 3 were on whether the section of the LBI pertaining to the potential continued usage of mercury in certain products or industries. The delegations were split between those who promoted a “negative list” whereby all those areas where mercury use should be banned would be listed one by one, and those who supported the alternative “positive” list, in which only a few sectors would be named which would be permitted continued mercury use. Unsurprisingly, a contact group was established to take the discussion into more detail in a separate forum. The emissions and releases contact group continued is debate over whether BAT would be acceptable and if so, in what format. However, despite a long and full day of discussion, little or no new text was agreed upon to be sent to the UNEP lawyers. Further, the perceived gap between developed and emerging economies was highlighted by a comment from the Chinese delegation describing the moves towards mercury control in some countries as  “high-speed trains” whilst other regions were riding in “ox-driven carts”. General feeling amongst the delegations seems to be that the negotiations are very far from complete.

Sat 30th June 2012 – Day 4 of INC4

At the end of Day 4 of work towards a LBI on mercury there was unfortunately a general air of disappointment at the slow rate of progress being made. Although contact groups met all day and some late into the night too, very little was agreed and even less sent to the UNEP lawyers. In fact, some text was sent back from the lawyers for further clarification. With respect to the requirements under contaminated land and awareness raising, the scope of “processing” and “use and consumption” needed better definition. There were also unfinalised debates, with China and Chile on one side and Japan and Norway on the other, on whether primary mercury mining could be banned completely. With respect to the emissions and releases group, it seems no further headway has been made on the important definition of BAT/BEP and how this could be included within the Legally Binding Instrument.

Tues 3 July 2012

The remaining days of the INC4 working on an LBI for mercury were spent largely in contact groups and regional discussion. For the emissions and releases group, the text remained largely unagreed, however there seemed to a be a general move towards a two-choice process – the use of BAT or the application of a national implementation plan (NIP).