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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.