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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ontario ban by 2012 plus free CFLs + procurement
Suzanne Fraser from Project Porchlight has been in touch to let BTB know that the government of Ontario in Canada has announced a ban of inefficient light bulbs by 2012.

A total of $1.5 million has also been allocated by the province for Project Porchlight volunteers to deliver 500,000 bulbs door-to-door in communities across Ontario.

The phase-out period is designed to give Ontario residents a chance to adapt to more efficient lighting technologies, such as compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and to start the public on the road to more complex energy conservation actions.

“Phasing out inefficient lighting will stimulate and sustain public dialogue about energy efficiency in general,” said Stuart Hickox, executive director of Project Porchlight, which a One Change campaign. “There is a profound sense of urgency about climate change that can only be sustained by giving everyone something to do. The simple act of changing a light bulb takes people from awareness to action; people become part of the solution.”

This move has occurred because the incandescent light bulb is amongst the most inefficient technologies in use in Canada.

Changing all of the 87 million light bulbs in Ontario will result in a savings of approx 6,000,000 MWh annually, enough to power 600,000 households.

Switching to CFL bulbs will prevent 43.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over the lifetime of the bulbs.

Changing light bulbs is the universal starting point for broad public action to reducing energy use. Polling done by Ekos Research following recent Project Porchlight campaigns (Ottawa, Guelph, Thunder Bay) shows that once people receive a CFL bulb, up to 65% say they will either change all their bulbs to CFLs right away or as old bulbs burn out. Up to 80% of respondents say that because of switching one bulb, they will now consider “energy efficiency” as a factor in all their future purchases.

“Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs is the first choice that we can make in becoming energy efficient consumers,” continued Mr. Hickox. “The government’s action shows that they understand that the bulb is just the start. Once people change bulbs, they will quickly move to more complex energy conservation actions.”

Innovative social marketing programs such as Project Porchlight offer people a chance to adapt to and appreciate new technologies such as CFL bulbs. In addition to funding from the Ontario government, Project Porchlight campaigns are also sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Hydro Ottawa, Thunder Bay Hydro, the Yukon government, and Natural Resources Canada.

Before we get too excited, it is worth noting that critics have said that the provincial government of Ontario has a poor record at delivering on commitments and that they have back-tracked on the closure of coal-fired power stations by 2007, some of which will now be staying open until 2014.

On the bright side, as part of this initiative, the provincial government has vowed to stop purchasing standard incandescent light bulbs, which currently represent less than 1% of lighting in government buildings.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

BTB investigates the EU's plans for a light bulb ban
When the EU's leaders pledged to phase out domestic incandescent light bulbs at a summit hosted by Angela Merkel in March 2007 this campaign was very happy.

Unfortunately, BTB has become increasingly concerned by the lack of clarity and binding commitments in the original announcement.

In the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, followed the EU's announcement by saying that high energy (GLS) domestic incandescents would start to be banned in the UK by 2011.

However, this commitment has not been matched by other European leaders and nothing is guaranteed as far as domestic lighting across the EU is concerned.

In addition, the subsequent failure of the EU to produce a timetable for action or a programme for phasing out different lighting technologies across the EU has set off alarm bells.

Based on these concerns, the BTB campaign has exchanged the following correspondence with the European Commission's energy, press and tax spokesmen and women.

As you will see below, there are genuine grounds for worrying whether our leaders are determined and/or unified enough to deliver a ban on domestic incandescent light bulbs which will deliver any real carbon emission reductions.

It is great that our leaders have got to the point that they are ready to make all the right noises and to take the applause.

However, they now need to convince us that they also intend to deliver on their fine words and to show genuine worldclass leadership.

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


Dr Matt Prescott
Director, Ban The Bulb

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 (solid fuel small combustion installations, laundry dryers, vacuum cleaners, digital TV converter boxes and 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,
Marilyn Carruthers
Press Officer to Energy Spokesman

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 provide 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 CFL cheaper before any ban comes into force.

Warmest regards


Director, Ban The Bulb

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,


Dear Marilyn,

Thank you for this additional information.

I suspect that a lot of reputational harm would be done to the EU if a domestic incandescent light bulb ban now failed to materialise and I hope that the EU's official position will be clarified without delay.

I also think that it is important for the goals of the WEEE, RoHS and EUP Directives to be harmonised as much as possible and for it to be made clear whether the EU will allow energy efficient goods and services to benefit from reduced levels of VAT across the EU, before any bans come into force.

I look forward to hearing from Maria Assimakopoulou in due course and appreciate your prompt and helpful response to my enquiry.

Warmest regards


Dr Matt Prescott
Ban The Bulb

Dear Marilyn,

I am writing to ask if you are able to provide any further details on the details on the proposed ban in domestic incandescent light bulbs including:

(1) a timetable for EU-wide action as part of the EUP Directive,
(2) the sequence in which specific domestic lighting technologies might be banned,
(3) the extent to which bans might vary between nations,
(4) the specialist and medical exemptions which are under consideration and
(5) the proposals which might to allow member states to use their tax systems to incentivise greater energy efficiency.

Warmest regards


Dr Matt Prescott
Director, Ban The Bulb

Dear Matt,

Thank you for your email of April 8. As I said in my email of 15 March - we are in a study phase where incandescent bulbs are concerned. There is no proposal to ban them at present - your questions 1-4 are therefore impossible for us to answer yet.
In regard to your tax question I am copying Mrs Assimakopoulou who will answer you on this.

Best wishes,


Dear Marilyn,

Thank you for your response to my query regarding the details of the EU's proposed light bulb ban.

Whatever the intention, I am afraid that the impression was definitely created that the EU was proposing to ban domestic incandescent light bulbs within the next few years.

Please see:

If the press coverage in March was mistaken, I would urge you :

(1) to be precise about what you the European Commission is proposing to do about improving the energy efficiency of domestic lighting and

(2) to publish a press release which corrected the widely established view that the EU's leaders have in any way committed to ban inefficient domestic light bulbs.

As things stand, the EU has been given a lot of credit for sounding as though it intends to make domestic lighting more energy efficient -without being required to specify any meaningful targets or a timetable for action.

I would therefore appreciate it if the EU's position could be clarified in public without delay.

I shall look forward to hearing from Maria regarding my question on the scope for using tax incentives to encourage greater energy efficiency within the EU.

Warmest regards


Director, Ban The Bulb

Dear Matt,

For the moment normal VAT rates apply to both Incandescent lighting and Compact fluorescent light bulb.

Today, there is no legal basis for a reduced rate.

Whether changes in VAT will be allowed to make incandescents more expensive and Compact Fluorescent Lights cheaper before any ban comes into force, we will have to wait for the outcome of the report (in particular on the link between VAT rate decrease and consumer price decrease).

Best regards,
Maria Assimakopoulou

Dear Maria,

Thank you for your prompt and helpful response.

Please could you tell me what explicitly stops individual governments from reducing the rate of VAT on energy saving goods and services and when the report you have mentioned is likely to be published.

Warmest regards and thanks,


Dear Matt,

VAT rules at EU level are harmonised and any change therefore needs to be agreed with the unanimity of the 27 Member States. Member States cannot decide on their own initiative to modify the EU law.

The report on the impact of the existing VAT reduced rates should be available around end of July/September. The Commission, based on the findings of this report will make a Communication aiming to launch a debate among Member States on modifying the current rules on VAT reduced rates. This again doesn't mean that incandescent lighting will then be included in the list of reduced VAT rate.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,


Dear Maria,

Thank you very much for this clarification.

Your generous assistance is greatly appreciated.

Warmest regards


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Sunday, April 08, 2007

European Parliament Written Declaration
Green MEP, Caroline Lucas, has tabled the following Written Declaration in the European Parliament.

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 thatconvert only 5% of the energy used into light,

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

D. whereas there is a growing worldwide move towards legislation to ban incandescentbulbs, including in Cuba (May 2006), Venezuela (November 2006), California (February2007), Australia (February 2007) and Ontario (February 2007),

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

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

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

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

If 50% of MEPs signed this document it would become official European Parliament policy.

Elements of the lighting industry are known to be resistant to this document's wording, in particular the emphasis on a blanket ban of incandescent light bulbs, and to prefer that the declaration was calling for specific types of incandescent to be phased out by specific dates.

BTB suspects that it is unlikely that 50% of MEPs will sign up to this written declaration and that this call for a wholesale ban will simply focus minds across the EU on what measures would represent sensible and meaningful progress.

It is clear to BTB that some incandescents will need to be phased out later than others, in particular due to the need for a range of specialist + medical exemptions and responsible recycling schemes but that much more is also likely to be possible than the manufacturers would ever volunteer on their own accord... especially with regard to phasing out 60W and 100W screw and bayonet incandescents as quickly as possible.

BTB was delighted to offer Caroline Lucas' office some advice before this written declaration was tabled, but was unable to cover all of the relevant details at short notice.

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Import duty on Chinese CFLs up for renewal by EU
James has sent in the following article from the FT which explains how the light bulb manufacturer Siemens / Osram is lobbying against the renewal of the 66% import duty currently imposed on compact fluorescent lamps made in China when they are imported into the EU.

BTB suspects that this import duty will be renewed, or only cut a little, because the Western light ban manufacturers are co-operating with the EU's plans to phase out / ban incandescent light bulbs. It may also be significant that most Chinese CFLs are much less sophisticated than those made in the West (because they do not benefit from the patents) and could discredit all energy-saving light bulbs by offering disappointing performace.

While Europe's leaders were last week urging householders to fit energy-efficient light bulbs, several governments were busy attempting to block moves to cut their price.

A European summit agreed to toughen regulations against old-fashioned incandescent bulbs by 2009 as part of a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But earlier in the week officials from trade ministries rebuffed attempts by the European Commission to end five-year-old surcharges on imports of energy-efficient bulbs from China.

The 66 per cent duty was imposed in 2002 after European manufacturers complained of dumping by the Chinese. It expires in October but Siemens of Germany, which owns the Osram brand, is pushing for an extension. The other big makers, Philips of the Netherlands, which pays a 33 per cent tariff, and GE of the US, disagree. Ending the duty would cut prices to the level of conventional bulbs.

The Commission believes that Osram does not have the requisite 25 per cent of the market to ask for measures but some states, including Italy, this week askedit to do its maths again.

A spokesman said: "The Commission has not yet reached a definitive assessment in this review at this stage. It will do so in the next couple of weeks."

A UK government spokeswoman said: "Replacing just one bulb with an energy-efficient alternative can reduce lighting costs by up to £9 per year, or £100 over the lifetime of the bulb." It also saves tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Cuba, Venezuela and Australia are to ban incandescent bulbs.

EU diplomats said the late addition of the item to the summit agenda was the personal initiative of Angela Merkel, German chancellor, whose country holds the Union's rotating presidency.

Asked whether she used such bulbs, she said: "Most of the bulbs in my flat are energy-saving bulbs but they are not yet quite bright enough. Sometimes if you drop something on the carpet, you can't always find it." She should expect a knock at the door soon from Siemens.

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