At a U.N. meeting of environmental ministers in Nairobi, more than 140 countries agreed to negotiate a legally binding treaty that will cut mercury emissions. The treaty aims to reduce human exposure to a toxin that hampers brain development, Washington Post reports.
The agreement came after Obama administration officials reversed U.S. policy and embraced the idea of joining in a binding pact. The White House said the future treaty would use “a combination of legally binding and voluntary commitments” to cut mercury emissions from industrial processes, coal-fired power plants and small-scale mining.
China, India and other nations also agreed to endorse the goal of a mandatory treaty. Formal negotiations are expected to begin later this year and U.N. officials hope to conclude the talks by 2013.