The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is one of Dr Matt Prescott's environmental projects  | Contact BTB  
     Energy Saving Day (E-Day) | Oxford Earth Summit | Earth Summit Info | Environmental Rating Agency | "Heat" | 100 Years
                   Please contact Matt if you would like to support Ban The Bulb or next year's Energy Saving Day (E-Day) 
              A campaign to save money and help the environment by using energy efficient light bulbs

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

E-petition on the No. 10 Downing Street website
Francis Irving has set up a petition on the 10 Downing Street website saying:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to levy a tax on energy inefficient light bulbs so that their long term financial and environmental cost is visible in their retail price.

Please visit the petition website if you would like to add your name.

Monday, November 06, 2006

EDM: Cross-party support for the Ban The Bulb campaign
The Early Day Motion which my local Member of Parliament, Dr Evan Harris, proposed in support of the Ban The Bulb campaign has now been signed by 42 MPs from 7 political parties.

At present the EDM's signatories include:

Conservative Party: Derek Conway, Bob Spink + Edward Vaizey

Democratic Unionist Party: Dr William McCrea, Iris Robinson + David Simpson

Labour Party: Martin Caton, Jeremy Corbyn, Ann Cryer, Janet Dean, David Drew, Jeff Ennis, Bill Etherington, Paul Flynn, Kelvin Hopkins, Brian Jenkins, Lynne Jones, John McDonnell, Jim McGovern, Martin Salter, Alan Simpson, Rudi Vis + Betty Williams

Liberal Democrats: Tom Brake, Colin Breed, Annette Brooke, Edward Davey, Timothy Farron, Lynne Featherstone, Evan Harris, John Hemming, Paul Holmes, Paul Keetch, John Leech, Paul Rowen, Andrew Stunell, Mark Williams, Stephen Williams + Phil Willis

Plaid Cymru: Hywel Williams

Scottish National Party: Mike Weir and

Social Democratic + Labour Party: Mark Durkan.

Please use the They Work For You website if you would like to write to your MP in order to thank them for supporting this campaign or to encourage them to add their name to this list of supporters.

This story has been reported in The Daily Mail, The Mirror + The Oxford Mail.

EDM 2656: That this House notes the problems caused by increasing energy demands, including rising energy costs, reduced energy security and climate change; recognises that improved energy efficiency is the cheapest way for the UK to reduce energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions; welcomes the Ban the Bulb campaign, which aims to increase the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs; and calls on the Government to help main-stream energy efficient lifestyles by granting energy saving goods and services the same 5 per cent. VAT rate as condoms, strengthening UK building regulations and making energy efficiency a key criteria in all Government procurement.

Update: 13 Nov : Two more MPs have signed up!

Liberal Democrats: Martin Horwood + Greg Mulholland

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hansard: a written answer on merits of banning bulbs
The MP for Dundee West, Jim McGovern has asked Ian Pearson MP, the UK Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, if he would assess the merits of a ban on incandescent light bulbs. Jim has now received the following written answer:

Light Bulbs

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the merits of instituting a ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs. [92383]

Ian Pearson: The Government are committed to using all suitable policy instruments to remove the least efficient products from UK markets. Our current assessment is that, by removing ordinary incandescent light bulbs (GLS bulbs) from the UK market and encouraging sales of the most efficient alternatives, we could avoid approximately one million tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2020.

The UK cannot unilaterally ban or prevent the free trade in products such as incandescent light bulbs on the basis of their energy efficiency. However, the Government are pressing the European Commission to make light-bulbs a priority for regulatory action under the recently agreed Eco-Design for Energy Using Products (EUP) framework directive. We are also discussing with retailers and manufacturers how we can remove inefficient lighting products from UK shelves in advance of regulations.

Ban The Bulb hopes that the UK government will not wait for the agreement of 25 EU nations before annoucing plans to phase out incandescents over the next 5 years (and save 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year = 3.67 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year).

This issue is so important that we should not allow an unspecified trade rule to block rapid progress on this simple, painless and effective step.

The Stern Review highlighted the massive scale of the challenge posed by the climate change and emphasised the need for governments to introduce policies of an equivalent scale, on an urgent basis.

If we cannot make progress with light bulbs, how are we going to make the bigger and harder choices that will inevitably be required of us?

There will always be excuses for inaction or delay, but far more could be done.

When I launched this campaign it was said that VAT rates could not be reduced on energy saving goods and services because this would re-open complex EU negotiations, yet the Chancellor reduced the rate of VAT on condoms from 17.5% to 5% in the last budget...

Clearly our politicians can make a big difference when they want to show leadership.

Reader : tax based on wattage x life time of product
Eduard has been in touch from Spain to suggest a fair and logical way of calculating the appropriate level of tax which should be applied to any energy using products, based on the wattage and expected lifetime of the product in question...

Dear Matt,

I've been thinking about the fact that the problem to be tackled is an "up-front cost" one. From that side, the only way to smooth the up-front cost of a CFL versus an incandescent bulb is by incorporating the full-life cycle cost in the price. At present we have a good example of market failure.

I think it would be more equitable to calculate the appropriate level of tax that should imposed on an electricity using product according to all of the carbon emissions generated by a device during its life-cycle. That is,

bulb estimated life : 1000h
consumption : 100W
makes 100kWh.

CFL estimated life : 6000h
consumption : 20W
makes 120kWh.

Considering the fact that you'll need 6 incandescent bulbs, over time that adds 600 vs 120. This plays against taxing just for the sake of it.

I've recently read the following Market Transformation Programme article (

The scenarios remain crystal clear albeit the taxation appears to me a bit arbitrary. Why 50p, and not 30p? or 72p?

The mechanism I have suggested based on lifetime emissions would drive people to get the least consuming device they needed.

It could also be applied to some sort of mathematics linked to the price of the emission of CO2. Therefore, the measure could be more easily "translated to average Joe".

It could be tricky if every product had to have a different tax rate, but perhaps bands could be created with tax deductions being made for the more energy efficient products... BTB is already advocating that energy saving goods and services should have a reduced level of VAT, similar to the 5% granted to condoms in the last budget.