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Monday, December 08, 2008

EU negotiations... the latest news
Ban The Bulb has spoken to it's contact in Brussels and found out that the EU's Energy Commissioner, Andris Pielbalgs, should be holding a press conference at about 5pm local time, in order to outline the improvements in the energy performance of light bulbs that have been agreed by the EU's 27 nations.

This decision is subject to a qualified majority vote and will be revised within 5 years, so it is critically important that a clear signal is sent to the lighting industry that it needs to do more to phase out both incandescent light bulbs and halogens, and to bring LEDs to market.

The three main issues at the EU negotiations appear to be:

1) The time allowed to phase out incandescents. At the moment incandescents look doomed, but as though some of them will be allowed on the market until 2012. This is a rather leisurely deadline, and one which could almost certainly be tightened.

2) Nordic nations (including Finland and Denmark) are concerned that the timing and level of ambition for the phase out non-clear (frosted) glass light bulbs is tougher than for clear glass light bulbs because frosted bulbs can already be perfectly replaced by highly efficiently compact fluorescent lamps.

Apparently, the majority of nordic lamps are frosted and this might mean that Finland and Denmark want longer to make changes. This could result in the postponement of non-clear incandescent lamps being phased out.

3) The final date for standard halogens to be phased out. Halogens only offer a 25% improvement on the energy performance of traditional incandescent designs, but are currently not scheduled to be phased out before 2016.

This could mean that typical household lamps will still only need to be 25% more efficient than today in 8 years time, rather than the 90% more efficient that would be possible if CFLs and LEDs formed the new energy performance standard.

In general, it sounds as though the lighting industry is happy with the European Commissions proposals and this suggests to Ban The Bulb that the politicians are not being nearly tough enough on the industry.

As things stand, the lighting industry could flood the market with cheap halogens and kill off other more efficient alternatives, such as LEDs, if it wanted to; simply because this suited the industry's existing manufacturing capacity and business plans.

The industry could also re-open the standards in 5 years and lobby to keep them soft, thereby postponing the uptake of LEDs yet again and keeping consumer's energy bills unnecessarily high well into the future.

Ban The Bulb feels it is extremely important that within 5 years the new energy performance standard for domestic lights is set by LEDs, which offer a 90% energy saving, rather than by halogens which offer only a 25% improvement in energy performance.

If the EU doesn't want to show leadership and caves in to industry lobbying, perhaps President-Elect Obama will be stronger and force this necessary change.

Otherwise all of the grandiose statements about wanting to cut carbon emissions and energy use by 20% by 2020 or 80% by 2050 are nothing more than hot air.

With thanks to Edouard Toulouse and Germana Canzi for their help in the preparation of this update.

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