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Update from the 2nd Conference of the Parties – COP2, in Geneva

The work of the COP covers all areas of concern under the convention – from mercury waste and storage, emissions to air, contaminated land and so on, all the way through to funding and policy. I will therefore only focus on areas relevant to emissions and control of mercury from coal combustion in this update.

If you are interested in reading more about the broader work of the COP, then I suggest you access the daily reports of IISD.

The main “challenges” of COP2 with respect to moving the convention appear to be the following two issues:

  • The location of the permanent secretariat of the convention – this will be Geneva, but the convention secretariat will operate distinct from the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention secretariats and will run largely on funding from the Swiss government.
  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding – currently Iran and Russia are excluded from receiving funding from the GEF under the Convention due to political reasons and they continue to object at plenary level. There is also some ongoing discussion over which emission sectors can receive funding. It is likely that decisions on this will be made over the next few months.

Work continued, largely in break-out contact groups, to focus on ensuring that the Convention moves forward successfully. One of the most relevant contact groups was that on “effectiveness evaluation” which outlines global monitoring needs, including global background trends, identification of data gaps, and identification of available options to address gaps and lack of comparability, including the associated costs of each option. An interim expert group on this is to be established to work in between the COPs and will be staffed with experts nominated by the regional groups.

There was also substantial discussion on the definition of thresholds in the context of Article 11 of the Convention (mercury wastes) with a probable expert group established to consider this issue in the period between COP2 and COP3. Although Article 11 excludes overburden and waste and rock tailings from mining, this is qualified if these contain mercury above thresholds to be defined by the COP. The thresholds decided upon could thus have implications for coal wastes produced by combustion plants.

Coal Partnership activities at the COP

The Coal Partnership presented a paper on “Coal under the Minamata Convention” at the GEF hosted lunchtime event on Monday. We also presented a paper on “Cost effective options for mercury control” at the Partnership Outreach Event on Thursday.

COP3

Subject to confirmation, COP3 will take place in Geneva in November 2019. Whilst it is not possible for commercial companies to take part in the negotiations, there is the opportunity to attend as part of the exhibition which takes place in the foyer for the whole week. The Coal Partnership has one exhibition space and is happy to provide sub-space within this for companies to provide relevant materials for COP3 delegates. Please get in touch if you are interested in submitting materials.

The GEF project

The Coal Partnership continues to work closely with UNEP and other funding agencies to prepare a potential project for funding under the GEF7. The project proposal phase is a long one and so we are not able to provide more details. However, if/when such a project receives approval, we shall be engaging the Coal Partnership and its members to help us put the project into practice.

MEC14

The next MEC (Mercury and Multi-Pollutant Emissions from Coal) workshop will take place in Viet Nam at the end of 2019. We will ensure that this does not take place too close in the calendar year to the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) or COP3. The first call for papers for the ICMGP will go out in December, more information here

As for MEC14, as always, we welcome sponsorship and will provide a small exhibition area for commercial companies to present their expertise. We hope to send out a save-the-date announcement before the end of the year and the call for papers will go out in the spring of 2019. As always, MEC will act as the annual meeting of the UN Environment Coal Partnership and we will hopefully be able to talk more about new project work while we are in Viet Nam.

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