MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY COP5: Farewell to Fluorescent Lamps by 2025

Urge international leaders to say #FarewellToFluorescents and ban toxic mercury lighting.

Fluorescent lamps are a toxic and climate polluting technology – threatening the health of communities and ecosystems world-wide. Many countries are banning the domestic sale of these mercury-added lamps, but regulatory loopholes allow manufacturers to continue exporting fluorescents to unprotected markets in the name of profit. Low global fluorescent recycling rates mean that, until we phase them out, we continue to expose people and the planet to toxic mercury.

LED lamps are a widely available and cost-effective lighting solution. The international community now has the chance to make the leap forward into a mercury-free lighting future once and for all.

In April 2023, the Africa Region proposed a new amendment to phase out all the remaining fluorescent lamps at the Fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP5) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Geneva.

This amendment complements the unanimous decision at Minamata COP4 to phase out compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by 2025. If the proposed phase-out dates for all remaining fluorescent lighting categories are adopted in November at COP5, the global manufacture and trade of all fluorescent bulbs will effectively end by 2026 – and will avoid cumulatively;

  • 178 metric tonnes of mercury pollution (lamps and power plant emissions)
  • $1.23 trillion in electricity bills
  • 2.97 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of approximately three times the annual CO2 emissions of Japan.

It is time for the world to say #FarewellToFluorescents. Join the clean lighting movement and sign the open letter below to urge delegates of the 146 Parties to the Minamata Convention to stand in favor of the COP5 Lighting Amendment and rid the market of toxic mercury lighting.

This petition is co-led by Climate Action Network, the Clean Lighting Coalition, and Zero Mercury Working Group. Signatures open till 20 October

OPEN LETTER TO HEADS OF DELEGATION TO THE MINAMATA CONVENTION COP5

COP5 President Claudia Dumitru, COP5 Vice Presidents and Heads of Delegations,

We, organisations from across the world, spanning a broad range of institutions and movements, from environmental and chemical organisations, public health advocates, private sector and climate justice groups, call on you to ensure that COP5 delivers on its mission to Make Mercury History and phase out toxic mercury-added fluorescent lighting.

Ending the manufacture, export and import of fluorescent lamps in favor of cost-effective and energy-efficient LED lighting technologies is the lowest of low-hanging fruit in the fight against climate change and mercury pollution. The clean lighting transition is vital in safeguarding the health of all communities and ecosystems – especially those that face the worst effects of climate change and chemical pollution.

We applaud the Minamata COP4 delegates’ decision to phase out compact fluorescent lights in 2025. Now, it is time to close the loop on all fluorescent lighting to ensure that every nation is not burdened with the dangerous impacts of mercury-added lamps. Parties to the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) will debate an amendment to Annex A, proposed by the Africa Region, to end all remaining exemptions for toxic, mercury-added fluorescents.

We urge representatives of all 146 countries at the Minamata Convention COP5 to stand in favor of this amendment and adopt the proposed 2026 phase out date, or earlier.

If the Minamata Convention adopts a 2026 phase-out year for LFLs and 2025 for pin-based CFLni, the international community would cumulatively (2026-2050) avoid:

  • 178 metric tonnes of mercury pollution (lamps and power plant emissions)
  • $1.23 trillion in electricity bills
  • 2.97 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of approximately three times the annual CO2 emissions of Japan.

Any delay of the phase out date will have serious consequences on mercury reduction efforts, climate mitigation progress and overall health. Extensive market research underscores the feasibility and benefit of a full fluorescent phase-out by 2025. With each year of delay past 2025, we allow an additional 300 Mt of CO2 emissions to warm the planet.

Mercury-free, super-efficient and safe LED lighting is already widely available on the market and can replace fluorescents in virtually all applications. These bulbs are cost effective, with a payback period as low as four months. Driving this market even further poses significant economic and environmental benefits, as more countries grow their domestic LED manufacturing capacity. There is no need to wait – we are ready for the LED transition now.

A growing number of your countries are taking individual action to accelerate the LED transition by banning fluorescents domestically. While these are necessary actions – many continue to allow the manufacture and export of fluorescents to under-protected markets. This ethically inexcusable practice is endangering people, many of whom are already impacted disproportionately by global climate-irresponsibility.

Transitioning to clean, energy-efficient LED lighting will lower the energy burden on increasingly strained national grids and ensure that people, regardless of nationality, have access to safe, cost-effective lighting.

With these points in mind, we ask that the 146 governments you represent at the upcoming COP5 stand in favor of the COP5 Lighting Amendment and end exemptions for all mercury in fluorescent lighting.