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Sunday, December 07, 2008

EU light bulb ban imminent... but how ambitious?
After years of talking about phasing out light bulbs we will finally get a chance to see how ambitious our politicians will be when it comes for taking concrete action.

Tomorrow in Brussels senior representatives of the EU's 27 nations will vote on measures which will result in 100W and 60W incandescent light bulbs being phased out across the EU between 2011 and 2013.

The lighting industry is advocating a new type of incandescent light bulb which will use 25% less electricity than today's incandescents by 2013.

The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign feels that this level of ambition is totally inadequate, given that substitute compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) using 65-80% less electricity and light emitting diodes (LEDs) using 90% less electricity (to produce the same amount of light) are already available.

LEDs are definitely the technology we should be aiming for, within 5 years, as they offer instant brightness, dimmability and contain no mercury.

LED alternatives to 40W, 60W and 100W floor and table lamp incandescent lights bulbs are already on sale and simply need to be made cheaper and more readily available as quickly as possible.

High quality CFLs used to cost approximately £5 when this campaign was set up in 2005, but Tesco now sells excellent designs of CFL for as little as 81p. The same economies of scale need to be applied to LEDs without delay and excuses.

If we cannot be ambitious with light bulbs how on earth are we going to make much more difficult items such as our cars and homes significantly more energy efficient.

President-Elect Obama has recent said that he is going to be tough on the US auto industry and demand improved energy efficiency.

The EU needs to be similarly tough on the world's existing light bulb manufacturers, which have patents, factories, profits and shareholders to protect and do not need to pay the electricity bills of the EU's 500 million consumers or to finance the 10 extra power stations needed to keep the EU's lights on if their preferred technology is used to define the energy performance standards for domestic lighting.

Please see the following documents for more detail:

Dr Matt Prescott's recent articles for BBC News Online

No time to dim efficiency ambitions (Nov 2008)

Shedding light on call to ban bulb (Apr 2006)

Light bulbs not such a good idea (Feb 2006)

Technical references:

Discussion paper on domestic lighting products Ecodesign for CF (Oct 08)

Working document on draft regulation on non-directional household lamps (Oct 08)

Position from Ban The Bulb (Oct 08) - sent to DEFRA, BERR, DECC, MTP and the EU's Energy Commissioner

Position from ECOS, EEB, ZMWG, CAN-Europe, INFORSE-Europe, Greenpeace and WWF (Mar 08)

Make the Switch : European Lamp Companies Federation (Nov 07)

Important political milestones for BTB campaign...

Energy efficiency high on Obama stimulus plan (Dec 08)

Brown and Cameron battle over green air travel and phasing out old-style light bulbs (Mar 07) - Gordon Brown

EU switches off our old lightbulbs
(Mar 07) - Angela Merkel

Australia pulls plug on old bulbs (Feb 2007) - Malcolm Turnbull

How many legislators does it take to change a lightbulb? (Jan 2007) - Lloyd Levine

UK asks the EU to consider an EU-wide light bulb ban (July 2006) - Tony Blair

Campaign archive: 2005 - present

With thanks to Germana Canzi and Edouard Toulouse

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