High-energy light bulbs are to be banned in Europe from the start of 2010, EU energy ministers agreed today.
Incandescent bulbs – the conventional version with a filament – will be replaced with low-energy fluorescent bulbs.
And although the more efficient bulbs are currently more expensive to buy, environmental campaigners emphasise they are cheaper in the long run because they last longer and use far less electricity.
This means reduced greenhouse gases because CO2 is produced in generating the electricity which powers the bulb.
The massive switchover, which will affect all of the European Union’s 500 million citizens, was first ordered at a Brussels summit last year as part of an ambitious energy policy to fight climate change.
Today’s agreement on the details was hailed as a “positive step” by conservation group WWF, even though the ministers meeting in Luxembourg did not formally commit to a pledge also made by EU leaders last year to cut overall energy consumption across the EU by 20% by 2020.
WWF energy policy officer Mariangiola Fabbri commented: “Keeping energy efficiency as an optional tool will not lead us towards the much needed 30% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020.
“Energy efficiency should be the cornerstone of any climate and energy strategy for the EU, therefore a target of 20% for primary energy savings must become mandatory in Europe”.
WWF said the light bulb decision was particularly welcome just days before the lifting of EU import duties on energy-saving lamps from China.
The end of the tariff regime will help bring down retail prices of the most efficient light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs use up to five times as much energy as efficient lights such as “compact fluorescent lamps” (CFLs), says WWF.
Replacing the worst-performing lamps with today’s best available technology will contribute to reduce domestic energy consumption for lighting by 60% in the EU, equivalent to saving 30 million tons of CO2 pollution every year.
Governments had to stick to the target of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020 – and by 30% as long as the rest of the developed world did the same.