Ending toxic mercury lighting
The Clean Lighting Coalition supports a global shift to mercury-free lighting through the Minamata Convention.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury was launched in 2013 with the goal to “Make Mercury History” by eliminating the use of mercury in products and processes worldwide. It is named after the city of Minamata, Japan, which experienced widespread mercury poisoning after wastewater from a nearby chemical plant was discharged into the sea.
The Convention entered into force in 2017 following ratification by 50 countries. As of April 2021, there are 130 parties to the Convention. Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines and phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
Despite this progress, the Convention includes special exemptions for mercury-based fluorescent lighting products, citing insufficient cost-effective alternatives across global markets. However, the rapid development and increasing accessibility and affordability of mercury-free LED lighting makes the exemption unnecessary. Eliminating special exemptions for fluorescent lighting products at the next Conference of Parties (COP4) would lead to a global phase-out by 2025 and accelerate a transition to LED lighting.
Phasing out fluorescent lighting has widespread benefits, including:
- Eliminate 232 metric tons of mercury pollution, avoiding toxicity to humans and ecosystems
- Financial savings for consumers
- Reduce global power demand by 3%
- Cut 3.5 GT of carbon emissions cumulatively by 2050, the equivalent of eliminating every passenger car on the road worldwide for one year.