|London, United Kingdom - News Direct - 15 March 2022 - Today, more than 200 civil society organisations – including Climate Action Network, the Clean Lighting Coalition, European Environmental Bureau and South Africa Climate Change Coalition – have sent an open letter to Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, President of the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury COP4 demanding the end to exemptions for toxic mercury-containing fluorescent lighting products.
The organisations are calling for a global phase-out of mercury containing fluorescent light products by 2025, in line with a proposed amendment submitted by the African region to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
As lighting markets in wealthy countries shift to clean LED lighting, less-regulated markets may experience “environmental dumping” of old fluorescent technologies. Many countries in the global North have passed or are considering policies that will ban the sale of mercury-laden, inefficient lighting products in their domestic markets, however they would still allow domestic manufacture and export to less developed and emerging markets.
The import of fluorescents puts the public and environmental health of those countries at unnecessary risk. The proposed amendment by the African region would ensure a global phase-out of fluorescent lighting, eliminating fluorescent lighting at the source by ending the manufacture, export and import of mercury-based lighting products.
The cumulative (2025-2050) global benefits of the African Lighting Amendment would be significant:
Despite significant progress to reduce mercury, the Minamata Convention includes special exemptions for mercury-based fluorescent lighting products. While these fluorescent exemptions may have been necessary in 2013 when the Convention was drafted, lighting technology has moved on rapidly – and today, the accessibility and affordability of mercury-free LED retrofit lamps makes the fluorescent lamp exemption unnecessary.
The signatories, representing climate and environment advocates, healthcare networks, youth groups, lighting industry representatives and energy experts from across the world are calling for an end to the sale of toxic, polluting lighting products to protect both people and the planet.
"Ending exemptions for mercury-added fluorescent lighting at COP4.2 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on March 21 and removing 3.5GT of carbon dioxide emissions between 2025-2050 is the quickest win and lowest hanging fruit for climate mitigation," said Nithi Nesadurai, Director and Regional Coordinator, Climate Action Network Southeast Asia during a media advisory on March 14. "It will be beneficial from the cost, health and environmental perspectives as well. It has to be done now; there is no time to lose."
The letter comes as research from the Clean Lighting Coalition and partners demonstrate the health risks of mercury in lighting – particularly to vulnerable groups like developing fetuses, babies, and children; workers who handle fluorescent lamps at manufacturing and recycling facilities, as well as maintenance workers in commercial and institutional buildings; and communities of color and people living in low-income neighborhoods who may be chronically exposed to a combination of toxic substances, including mercury.
The letter underscores that the phase-out of fluorescents must be a coordinated global effort. From 21-25 March 2022, the Minamata Convention will host the fourth Conference of Parties (COP4). To enter into effect, the amendment must be passed with a majority consensus of the 137 Parties (countries) to the Convention.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
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