Los Angeles Times - The World
February 22, 2005
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer
At a meeting in Kenya, European ministers will seek deadlines and bans on the global pollutant, but the U.S. opposes a binding treaty.
Environmental ministers meeting in Nairobi this week to tackle one of the most widespread pollutants will be asked to choose between strict curbs on mercury proposed by the European Union and a voluntary approach advocated by the United States.
The EU is calling for deadlines, bans and detailed promises, whereas the U.S. prefers partnerships between industries and governments with no specific goals or deadlines for reducing either the global supply or demand of mercury.
In 2001, the United Nations Environment Program, or UNEP, declared that "national, regional and global actions, both immediate and long-term, should be initiated as soon as possible" to reduce emissions of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that has contaminated fish and other food sources around the world.
Meeting at UNEP's world headquarters in the Kenyan capital through Friday, more than 100 environmental ministers from six continents will decide whether to begin drafting a binding international treaty to restrict the buying, selling and use of mercury.