Two years to change EU light bulbs
ORDINARY light bulbs are to be banned across the European Union within two years in the fight against climate change.
The 490 million citizens of the 27 member states will be expected to switch to energy-efficient bulbs after a summit of EU leaders yesterday told the European Commission to "rapidly submit proposals" to that effect.
Environmentalists said the change would save the public up to 5.4 billion a year in fuel bills and also about 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
The energy that would be saved in the UK is equivalent to one medium-sized power station.
The announcement came as EU leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels and pledged to increase this to 30 per cent if other developed countries followed suit.
Greenpeace hailed the summit deal as "the biggest such decision since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chaired the summit, said: "We're not saying people should throw out all the bulbs in their house today but people should start looking at what's in the shops," she said.
However Mrs Merkel appeared to suggest she was not totally enamoured of the low-energy bulbs
. "Most of the light bulbs in my flat are energy-saving bulbs. They're not yet quite bright enough. When I'm looking for something I've dropped on the carpet, I have a bit of a problem," she said.
Australia last month said it would become the first country in the world to ban traditional, incandescent light bulbs - little changed since they were invented in the 19th century - announcing it would phase them out within three years.
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said: "We are very impressed by the Australians and before we came to the summit, we had already been in touch with them and looking at the issue."
The Commission was asked to draw up proposals on energy efficiency requirements for office and street lighting "to be adopted by 2008" and on incandescent bulbs and other forms of lighting in private homes by 2009.
Details of the proposals will still have to be formally approved, but the council yesterday was clearly behind the idea.
Tony Blair said the meeting had been "ground-breaking", adding: "This summit has seen Europe embark on a bold and ambitious move on climate change."
Greenpeace spokesman Mahi Sideridou said: "EU leaders deserve top marks for pushing climate change to the top of the agenda."
However he said a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions was required if the global temperature rise was to be kept below the point at which climate change is expected to become "dangerous".
And Friends of the Earth Scotland's chief executive, Duncan McLaren, said he was disappointed by the target.
"Their actions remain too timid in the light of warnings from the world's scientific and economic experts. In the run up to May's elections here in Scotland, we will be watching carefully to see which of the political parties are prepared to commit to the year-on-year pollution cuts now needed," he said.
Mr McLaren welcomed the move towards energy-saving light bulbs: "If this is a [European] Council proposal, then getting it through and implemented within three years isn't bad, even if it is quite a long time to change a lightbulb."
A Scottish Green Party spokesman said as more people bought energy-saving light bulbs the cost would drop off "which would enable the least well-off to benefit from regular substantial savings on energy bills".
EU officials were celebrating. As the summit bandwagon rolled out of town, someone was heard to shout: "Will the last here turn out the lights?"
The key targets and objectives:
• A minimum 20 per cent EU cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and a push for a bigger cut of 30 per cent in future.
• A target of 20 per cent energy efficiency savings by 2020, requiring homes, offices and streets to switch to energy-saving lighting.
• A 20 per cent binding target for energy consumption from renewable sources such as wind and solar across the EU by 2020.
• A minimum 10 per cent target for biofuels in vehicles' petrol and diesel by 2020.
• Setting up 12 large scale plants that demonstrate sustainable fuel technologies by 2015 in an effort to test and promote carbon capture and storage by 2020.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West