A long-awaited international treaty to curb mercury emissions was adopted at this week’s meeting of world heads in Japan, and U.N. members are now lining up to sign their names to the bottom line.
The treaty comes a few months after the U.N. Environment Program put forth a report that warned about the risks of mercury exposure.
Mercury is released during the burning of coal and during mine production, and those who make their living off the industry have warned that imposing strict limits on its emission levels ultimately would lead to higher energy costs for consumers. The southeast region of Asia was named the largest emitter of mercury, accounting for nearly half of what the world emitted, BBC reported.
The treaty would regulate the supply and trade of mercury; the use of mercury in industrial operations; and the policies and rules to reduce mercury emission levels in gold mining, power plants and other production plants, BBC said.
Treaties don’t become law for the individual nations until they’re approved by the sovereign governments, according to their laws. In America, that means that no treaty takes effect or becomes law until the Senate ratifies it — regardless of whether it’s signed by the president or another member of the executive branch.