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Sunday, March 18, 2007

EU lamp companies help government change lights
Antony Froggatt has just passed on the following press release from the European Lamp Companies Federation.

The European Lamp Companies Federation (ELC) today announced the first-ever joint industry commitment to support a government shift to more efficient lighting products for the home. The commitment was announced by Philips, Osram, GE, SLI Sylvania and other European lamp manufacturers following a meeting between industry, national governments and the European Commission at the International Energy Agency, in Paris.

The lighting industry is developing a multi-pronged approach to achieve this government objective including public incentives to encourage consumers to purchase more efficient products and setting performance standards that will eliminate the least efficient products from the market.

In Europe approximately 2.1 billion energy inefficient lamps are sold every year mainly for homes, and other commercial uses. There are 3.6 billion such inefficient lamps in use in Europe. Assuming that an average of 50% of energy consumed could be saved by changing to energy efficient home lighting, Europe could save approximately 23 megatons of CO2, which is equal to the output of 27 power plants (@ 2TWh) or electricity cost saving of 7 billion Euros.

ELC members are already proactively assisting the government to influence the shift towards more efficient lighting through the European framework directive EuP (ecodesign of energy using products) in the areas of street and office lighting. They now also urge the European Commission to adopt a similarly proactive approach to domestic lighting. The group is now actively working on scenarios for the various governments so as to recommend realistic targets and timelines for an effective, successful shift that continues to provide consumers with the best lighting products for their needs while also serving to reduce energy consumption.

This co-operation between business and government is welcomed by Ban The Bulb, especially as it should help to ensure that meaningful change is delivered in a timely fashion across Europe.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

EU light bulb ban not guaranteed
Ban The Bulb is concerned that the wording used by the EU's leaders when they announced their plans to ban incandescent light bulb by 2009 was very vague (For example, Gordon Brown had added 2 years to the EU's deadline for action within 2 days), and BTB has consequently exchanged the following emails with the EU's energy spokesman and his team.

Dear Ferran,

I am writing to ask if you could let me know which directives the EU will be using to phase out incandescent light bulbs and/or to incentivise the uptake of their energy efficient alternatives.

Warmest regards


Dear Mr Prescott,

Ferran Tarradellas has asked me to send you this information regarding lightbulbs and other ways of saving energy.

Electric lighting generates emissions equal to 70 per cent of those from all the world's passenger vehicles. But it is still very inefficient. Incandescent light bulbs have been used for 125 years and up to 90 per cent of the energy each light bulb uses is wasted, mainly as heat.

The more efficient lights, such as the compact fluorescent light bulb, use around 20 per cent of the electricity to produce the same amount of light. A compact fluorescent light bulb can last between 4 and 10 times longer than the average incandescent light bulb and can lead to major savings in household energy costs (lighting costs can be reduced by up to 66 per cent).

The Commission is aware of the substantial energy saving potential related to household lighting. Since 1998, a directive imposes the display of the EU energy label on the packaging of household lamps pointing out incandescent lamps to consumers as particularly bad performers. While very effective for other appliances, the label did not succeed in pulling the market towards a major market share for economic lamps. This had to do with the high difference in purchase price for consumers, aesthetic and performance considerations.

Under the Ecodesign directive (2005/32/EC), the Commission is now examining 20 product groups (including lighting) in order to improve their overall environmental performance, with special attention to their energy efficiency. In this framework it will be possible to the Commission to set mandatory requirements on manufacturers that would exclude the worst performing products from the European market. However, such measures have to be preceded by extensive stakeholder consultation and by an assessment of the impact on the lamp industry (in Australia all lamps are imported) and on consumers (affordability, aesthetic and quality of lighting).

Studies on potential measures for lighting equipment in streets and offices will be finished by this summer, and a study on domestic lighting which will help determine whether phasing out incandescent lamps is a valid policy option in the EU, will start in May.

The study to be launched in May to examine the potential policy measures relating to the environmental performance of household lighting, including its energy efficiency will also estimate the amount of energy that would be saved by phasing out incandescent lamps in the EU. First calculations estimate that the yearly savings once all incandescent lamps will be replaced by energy-saving lamps is 45 billion kWh per year. As an order of magnitude, this represents the total annual electricity consumption (including appliances) of about 10 million European households.

Energy Efficiency Action Plan:

You can find the list of the five new items(1. solid fuel small combustion installations, 2. laundry dryers, 3. vacuum cleaners, 4. digital TV converter boxes and 5. household lighting) for the new tender for studies under section "Second round of preparatory studies" on the DG TREN Ecodesign website.

Incandescent bulbs will be dealt with under domestic lighting.

We have just opened the offers for preparatory studies into all these areas and now we'll have to evaluate them to select the winning tenderers.

The main criterion for choosing these products is still their relatively high potential in reducing GHG emissions, as required in Article 16.2 of the Ecodesign Directive 2005/32/EC:

Best wishes,


Hello Marilyn,

Thank you for replying on Ferran's behalf.

Please could you let me know the following

(1) The proposed date(s) for banning domestic incandescents within the EU,
(2) Whether all types of domestic incandescent will be treated the same way,
(3) Whether all EU countries will be obliged to implement bans in the same way at the same time,
(4) What exemptions will be made,
(5) What financial / practical assistance will be provided for the EU's poorest citizens
(6) What measures will be made to ensure that other relevant legislation supports the goal of banning incandescents and
(7) Whether changes in VAT will be allowed to make incandescents more expensive and CFLs cheaper before any ban comes into force.

Warmest regards


Dear Matt,

I am afraid that its rather too early to answer your questions. As the info I send you explains, we are in a study phase where incandescent bulbs are concerned.
It is too soon to either confirm that there might be a ban or give a date or to say what types of bulb might be included since before we get to that stage extensive consultation with stakeholders will be held.

Regarding your last question on changes in VAT, I am forwarding your question to our Spokesman responsible for tax issues. Maria Assimakopoulou.

Best wishes,


BTB is concerned that these statements do not commit the EU's member countries to banning incandescent lights by a specific date or in a consistent manner across the EU.

I will keep you posted with developments and thank Antony Froggatt for his recent assistance.


Currys ban incandescent light bulbs from stores
The UK's biggest electrical retailer, Currys, has announced that it will stop selling incandescent light bulbs.

Apparently, sales of energy saving light bulbs have increased 20 fold on a year by year basis, and now make up 60% of the companies light bulbs sales.

Although a welcome development it is noticeable that Curry's still sell very few other energy saving products and that they have stopped selling cathode ray televisions which use 4 times less electricy than plasma screen televisions.

It is also interesting to note that the energy company E.ON has joined forces with the retailer Morrisons to offer two Philips low-energy Genie bulbs for 99p...

Hopefully more companies will copy these moves and extend their commitment to energy efficiency beyond light bulbs.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

EU-wide incandescent light bulb ban by 2010
On Friday, at an EU conference hosted by Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the European Union's leaders announced their intention to ban incandescent light bulbs, for the 490 million people living within the EU's 27 countries, by 2010.

When the Ban The Bulb campaign was founded two years ago such a development seemed a distant dream, and I would like to thank the many people who have helped this historic announcement to come about.

Richard Black from BBC News Online, gave the whole campaign a huge boost by inviting BTB to write a number of comment pieces for BBC New Online's "Green Room".

In the first Green Room article I was able to make the basic case for making better use of the energy saving light bulbs. This publicity resulted in hundreds of people writing letters to their Member of Parliament, as well as to the UK's Department for the Environment (DEFRA), and stimulated a vigorous debate within the UK government.

Mark Kinver and Richard then allowed me to produce a number of follow-up articles for the Green Room slot which addressed the more technical issues associated with the manufacture and use of incandescents and CFLs, the need for strong political leadership and the need to regulate markets in ways which helped to save money, reduce carbon emissions and increase energy security.

Oliver Tickell also wrote an article (about different ways of taxing light bulbs) for the Guardian, during which he calculated the lifetime saving from a single CFL was £100, and I am sure that this number lodged in many brains.

The Energy Saving Trust, Building Research Establishment and the Market Transformation Programme provided credible data which helped to strengthen the win-win-win rationale behind the campaign.

Gerald Strickland, the chief executive of the European Lamp Companies Federation, did what he could to facilitate BTB's constructive engagement with the lighting industry, and I am pretty sure that his skill and tact helped to calm and focus the responses of the major lighting manufacturers such as Philips, GE and Osram to the BTB campaign from Feb 06 onwards.

Leo Hickman generously made, a campaign of the week for The Guardian in Feb 2006, and has followed up on his early support with articles which have explained why it was worth changing light bulbs immediately and asked why the UK couldn't ban incandescents, if Australia could.

Roger Harrabin asked Tony Blair if he would consider banning incandescent light bulbs, following the publication of the UK's Energy Review in July 2006, and was told that the UK had asked the EU to consider an EU-wide ban.

The Germans seem to have ignored or forgotten this request from the UK government but, whatever happened at the EU-level, it is clear that something changed between 21 Feb and 10 Mar 2007.

As recently as 21 Feb 2007, the EU's energy spokesman, Ferran Tarradellas was saying there were no plans to ban domestic light bulbs.

George Monbiot mentioned the idea of banning incandescent light bulbs in his book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning, whilst my local member of parliament, Dr Evan Harris MP, proposed an Early Day Motion in support of the campaign which ended up being signed by 44 MPs from 7 political parties. The Oxford Mail also provided valuable local support at the time of the EDM.

Many different people set up supportive petitions on the No. 10 Downing Street website; these petitions typically requested changes in VAT for energy saving goods and service and/or a light bulb ban, and I suspect that light bulbs became one of the most popular topics for petitions on the No. 10 website.

Assembly Member Lloyd Levine from California proposed the "How Many Legislators Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb Act" and called for the banning of incandescents in California by 2012.

This funnily-phrased piece of proposed legislation was a particularly significant development and raised the level of political interest in banning incandescents from 31 Jan 2007. This was partly because the proposal was now well-received, rather than ridiculed, but also because Lloyd's political status could be seen (especially by all politicians!) to have grown as a result of showing some political courage when it came to tackling climate change.

Within three weeks, the Australian environment minister Malcolm Turnbull (who didn't want to sign up to Kyoto but had to be seen to do something about climate change after the worst drought in 100 years) had picked up on the Ban The Bulb proposal which was being prepared, by a co-founder of Planet Ark, John Dee, and light bulb manufacturer, Philips...

Minister Turnbull said that Australia's light bulb ban would be introduced by 2009-2010 and, despite being vague about how a ban would be implemented, removed many of the excuses for inaction which had previously been thrown up by many developed countries, including the UK.

Laura Yates and John Sauven from Greenpeace expressed an interest in supporting the Ban The Bulb campaign, after the ban in Australia, and we had begun to discuss how this might be made to work and the campaign could be adapted for countries such as India.

At around the same time, BBC News 24 asked why Australia had proposed banning incandescents and what could be done in the UK and EU. I suggested that Australia's "can do culture" probably had something to do it, whilst the UK's more instinctive focus on the barriers to change seemed to slow down or block innovative decision-making in the UK/EU.

Andrew Mason a school boy from Scotland and others started to ask politicians such as David Miliband, in ways which couldn't be easily fudged, why the UK hadn't yet introduced a ban.

Matt McGrath interviewed BTB for the BBC World Service on Thursday 8 March and subseqently discovered that domestic light bulbs, and five other technologies, had just been added to the 14 technologies highlighted for legislation in the EU's Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.

This was the first significant indication that a light bulb ban might be announced while the EU's leaders were meeting in Germany... this impression was strengthened by some of the things which were being said about the EU showing leadership and reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020... but remained no more than a hunch.

Antony Froggatt helped Caroline Lucas MEP to produce a Written Declaration (based on BTB's research), for Green MEPs to sign and this neatly summarised the case for Europe's leaders to do something decisive... and the rest is now history!

An idea which was once considered radical has become mainstream, and the conversation has already moved on to some of the additional steps which will be required to significantly reduce the atmosphere's carbon dioxide concentration, such as taxing aviation more and increasing the role of renewables in supplying energy.

BTB will continue to monitor how the EU's light bulb ban is implemented and to encourage other countries to take advantage of the carbon, energy and money savings possible from using energy efficient technologies which are already available but which haven't got established yet for one reason or another.

Thanks to Rebecca Blood, Dangerousmeta, Tree Hugger, the National Audit Office (who wrote an excellent report on the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency in 2005)... and last-but-not least my friends and family in Australia, Holland and the UK.

Things like this don't happen spontaneously or overnight and all of the help and support BTB has received is greatly appreciated.


Friday, March 09, 2007

EU-wide light bulb ban becoming possible
Ban The Bulb has heard that incandescent light bulbs have been added to EU's list of technologies under consideration as part of the EU's Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (increasing the number of technologies from 14 to 20) since 21 Feb.

Together with the EU's recent announcement of an intention to cut the EU's carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, and calls of leadership by the EU, it looks as though a a de facto ban (using changes to incentives such as VAT, technology neutral minimum standards such as lumens per watt and/or the phased ban of specific technologies) could be in the offing.

A late addition....

The Following Written Declaration was put together by Caroline Lucas MEP and was submitted prior to the EU leaders meeting in Germany. I'm afraid it's written in the political equivalent of legalese, but I hope you'll get the drift of it.


pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure

by Caroline Lucas, Mojca Drcar Murko, Karin Scheele and Jens Holm

on introducing a prohibition on the sale of incandescent light bulbs in the European Union

Written declaration on introducing a prohibition on the sale of incandescent light bulbs in the European Union.

The European Parliament,

– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas energy-saving is an essential part of the EU’s strategy to reduce CO2 emissions and improve security of supply,

B. whereas 80% of home lighting today uses highly inefficient incandescent bulbs that convert only 5% of energy used into light,

C. whereas these bulbs could be rapidly replaced, saving €5-8 billion across the EU in fuel bills and around 20 million tonnes of CO2,

D. whereas there is a growing worldwide move for legislation to ban incandescent bulbs, including in Cuba (May 06), Venezuela (Nov 06), California (Feb 07), Australia (Feb 07) and Ontario (Feb 07),

1. Calls upon the Commission to initiate legislation to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs in the European Union by 2010;

2. Calls upon Member States, with EU encouragement, to immediately launch public information campaigns on the economic and environmental advantages of efficient lighting systems; and to maximise existing legislation to facilitate the phase-out of incandescent bulbs;

3. Urges the Commission to use the proposal for a new international energy efficiency agreement to launch a global ban the use of incandescent bulbs;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission and Member States.

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