Greenland has acceded to the UN treaty against mercury pollution, the government said on Wednesday.
“The supply of mercury to our environment must be limited,” said Jess Svane, the minister of the environment for Greenland’s Home Rule government.
“Accession is an important step in protecting the health of the country’s citizens and the environment from manmade emissions and mercury emissions.”
The Minamata Convention came into force in 2017. There are currently 128 signatories, including Canada, that ratified the agreement in 2017.
Although mercury is a naturally occurring metal, human-caused releases of mercury into the environment are becoming an increasing concern. The treaty seeks to control anthropogenic activities that put mercury into the ecosystem.
Among other measures in the convention are banning new mercury mines, phasing out the use of mercury in certain products, controlling mercury emissions in water and air and on land, and regulating mercury’s use in small scale, and artisanal gold mining, where mercury is used to help extract gold from ore.
Although a concern worldwide, mercury pollution is becoming an increasing concern in the Arctic, where mercury travels to by ocean currants and the atmosphere, and then shows up in the food chain and the traditional foods relied upon by Indigenous peoples all across the circumpolar North.
Eye on the Arctic, 18 November 2020