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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why not ban incandescents in the UK... and the EU?
Since launching Ban The Bulb in February 2005 a lot has happened (including Hurricane Katrina, The Stern Review and the launch of the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report).

In fact, the case for taking urgent action to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the threats posed by climate change has become increasingly diverse and compelling... not to mention accepted by both the business community and the public.

It is therefore great to see how the politicians in Cuba (May 06), Venezuela (Nov 06), California (Feb 07), Australia (Feb 07) and Ontario (Feb 07) have gradually initiated and/or proposed light bulb bans.

Being based in the UK, I would obviously like to see my own government joining in the party, and giving this job to themselves rather than to the EU or a future government.

If a trade rule is responsible for preventing, or delaying, a unilateral ban of incandescents in the UK it would be good to know which rule was to blame and to understand why we haven't been able to announce a light bulb ban in the UK yet - given that there is no bigger threat than climate change (Sir David King, June 04), climate change represents the the world's biggest market failure (Sir Nicholas Stern, Oct 06), and the Climate change fight "can't wait" " (Tony Blair, Oct 06).

Much of the necessary legislation (including the Eco-Design and the RoHS Directives) is already in place or in the EU pipeline.

Despite this, it is far from clear that incandescent light bulbs will ever be considered a wasteful technology by all of the EU's 27 member countries.

The European Commission has just announced an interest in cutting EU emissions by between 20% and 30% by 2020, yet it has has failed to outline how this will ever be achieved.

The UK and the EU could announce a phased and responsible ban of incandescent light bulbs tomorrow if they wanted - as an easy first step design to reduce carbon emissions and save money - and one has to question their sincerity if they cannot contemplate this without resorting to vague mumblings about rules...

If there are any trade rules which could prevent this wasteful technology from being banned, perhaps we should take a stand and call for common sense to prevail?

Surely the UK government, the European Commission and others could cut through the red tape, and set a sensible timetable for for action, if they really wanted to get things done?

Many commonly used 60W and 100W light bulbs could be replaced over night... even if other, more niche, designs of light bulb would take longer to phase out.

It is certainly very exciting that things are suddenly moving so fast but much more could be done if our leaders genuinely wanted to show meaningful leadership, ambition and imagination.

Every journey starts with one step, and in BTB's view this energy-efficiency journey is worth starting today.