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Cablegate: Mexico: Mercury Demarche

VZCZCXRO4261
PP RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHME #1947 1782018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 262018Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2348
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 2435
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0468

UNCLAS MEXICO 001947

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/ENV - HH FINMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO CA MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO: MERCURY DEMARCHE

Ref: State 63943

1. On June 23 U.S. Embassy Mexico City ESTH counselor and science
specialist met with Teresa Bandala, Director General of
International Affairs, and Ives Gomez, Director of the Grey Agenda
(Toxic Substance Office), in the Secretariat of Environment and
Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). They noted that Mexico prefers
voluntary actions aimed at effective solutions regarding mercury
environmental problems rather than a legally-binding instrument.
Bandala pointed out that any additional instrument (whether
legally-binding or voluntary) would add more difficulties for
achieving an integrated and efficient agenda in UNEP. Mexico
prefers using existing voluntary instruments where additional
resources could be applied to control mercury, rather than any
fragmentary efforts involving new commitments and bureaucracy.

2. Gomez added that if another instrument is established for
mercury and then expanded to include other metals such as lead and
cadmium, the instrument would have to consider that the additional
elements have different environmental behaviors than mercury. He
went on to argue that voluntary instruments such as the Basil
Convention, which already includes mercury, should be used to
address mercury concerns instead. Gomez pointed out that Mexico
also favors the inclusion of mercury in UNEP Strategic Approach to
International Chemicals Management (SAICM) which could then be used
as a mechanism to develop a long term-strategy. He did admit that a
voluntary instrument lacks the teeth to control and decrease mercury
pollution with enforcement authority.

3. Ives Gomez informed that Mexico has already been working on
mercury under the framework of the trilateral Commission for
Environmental Cooperation (CEC). Mexico's first task is to get an
inventory of mercury, hopefully with the support of CEC and UNEP,
then develop national regulations, although Gomez expects some
difficulties with the mining and fishing industries.

4. ESTH reps asked SEMARNAT interlocutors if they thought a united
trilateral position could be developed by the North American
countries. Gomez commented that they had not yet discussed their
ideas with Canada, but pointed out that northern countries have a
different position, since they get more mercury pollution as the
metal tends to migrate to the north. Gomez added that the GRULAC
countries have diverse positions on mercury, but that Mexico and
Argentina have similar approaches.

5. Comment: Mexico's "no new agreements" approach to mercury
management may find many allies, especially among countries not
already committed to the European approach. The USG may want to
consider reviewing this alternate approach to a global voluntary
mercury mechanism before the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Working Group meeting
in October. End comment.
GARZA

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