Climate Action Moreland has joined more than 200 organisations globally in signing a letter to remove 3.5 Gigatons of CO2 emissions between 2025 and 2050 by ending toxic lighting. The letter is targeted at Heads of Delegations to COP4.2 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
It would also avoid 232 metric tons of mercury pollution from leaking into the environment between 2025-2050, both from the lamps themselves and from avoided burning of coal in power plants.
The open letter asks that the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-4) – Second segment – must deliver on its mission to Make Mercury History and phase-out toxic mercury-containing fluorescent lighting. The meeting is on March 21, 2022.
Australia signed the Minnamata Convention on 10 October 2013, and ratified the convention on 7 December 2021. Read more at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment on Australia and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Open Letter to phase out mercury in Flourescent Lighting
COP4 President Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, COP4 Vice Presidents and Heads of Delegations,
We, organisations from across the world, spanning a broad range of institutions and movements, from environmental and chemical organisations, public health advocates, youth groups, private sector and climate justice groups, call on you to ensure that COP4 delivers on its mission to Make Mercury History and phase out toxic mercury-containing fluorescent lighting.
Chemical pollution from man-made products and processes is contributing to the ongoing damages to our dwindling natural resources, putting human and environmental health at risk. Climate change threatens billions of lives every year. Famine, droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and melting ice caps have created a reality the world is struggling to adapt to. We must do everything in our power to avoid reaching 1.5 C if we hope to leave a world habitable for future generations.
On March 21, the world has a unique opportunity to remove 3.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, while simultaneously eliminating 232 tonnes of mercury pollution from the environment by ending the manufacture, sale and export of mercury-containing fluorescent lighting products.
The 137 countries you represent will meet at the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury fourth Conference of Parties (COP4) to vote on the amendment, under Annex A, proposed by the African region to end exemptions for toxic, mercury-containing fluorescents. The amendment aims to accelerate the global transition to mercury-free, superefficient and safe LED lighting.
The cumulative (2025-2050) global benefits of adopting this African Lighting Amendment would be significant:
- Eliminate 232 tonnes of mercury pollution from the environment, both from the light bulbs themselves and from avoided mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants;
- Reduce global electricity use by 3%;
- Avoid 3.5 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions; equivalent to removing all passenger cars globally from the road for a whole year; and
- Save US$1 trillion on electricity bills.
As 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 regulations that will ban the sale of mercury-laden, inefficient lighting products in their domestic markets.
However, they would still allow their domestic manufacture and export to less developed and emerging markets. The import of fluorescents places the public and environmental health of those countries at unnecessary risk.
In contrast, transitioning to clean, energy-efficient LED lighting will lower the energy burden on increasingly strained national grids and ensure that people, regardless of nationality, have access to safe, toxic chemical-free lighting technologies while also making significant savings on their electricity bills.
We therefore demand that the 137 governments you represent at the upcoming COP4 vote in favor of the African Lighting Amendment and end exemptions for mercury in fluorescent lighting. Transitioning to cost-effective, toxics-free and energy-efficient LED lighting technologies is the lowest of low-hanging fruit in the fight against climate change and mercury pollution.
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Early sign-ons, including from Climate Action Moreland, can be seen at the Climate Action Network website.
MERCURY-FREE LIGHTING REPORT – Technical & Economic Assessment of Mercury-Free Lighting: Asia Pacific Region (Clean Lighting Coalition, 2021)