Environment Canada

Environment Canada

February 20, 2009 15:46 ET

Canada's Environment Minister Welcomes International Action on Mercury

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 20, 2009) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment, issued the following statement on international agreement to work towards a treaty that would reduce the amount of mercury entering the environment:

"I congratulate the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on its successful effort to secure agreement by the international community to negotiate a legally binding treaty to control this harmful substance. Canada was among the first countries to stress the importance of securing a legally binding agreement and I wish to recognize the leadership shown by a number of countries, in particular, the United States, India and China.

Throughout the conference, Canada was an active and vocal supporter of a legally binding global agreement at the UNEP Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. While we have successfully reduced our mercury emissions at home, roughly 80 per cent of the mercury that is deposited in Canada comes from other countries. By supporting negotiations on an international agreement to reduce global mercury pollution, we can ensure greater protection for the environment and health of Canadians, particularly in the Arctic.

This is the type of substance that knows no boundaries, so concerted global action is needed to solve the problem. Canada will play a leadership role as these negotiations unfold over the next several years. Our experience at home reducing mercury can serve as an example to help lead in developing a global legally binding instrument for mercury.

In the meantime, Canada stressed the importance for international work to continue to reduce mercury pollution while a legally binding international treaty is negotiated."

Mercury is a substance that can seriously harm human health and the environment. About half of what is now in the atmosphere is emitted from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, mining and base metal smelting. Mercury often moves between the air, soil and water and can travel long distances in the atmosphere.

(Egalement disponible en francais)

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations