WWF News Centre
Flicking the switch on Edison’s light bulb
The incandescent light bulb with its familiar filament is no longer efficient enough for the 21st century
14 Oct 2008
Luxembourg: The light bulb, a defining invention of the late 19th century, will soon be a thing of the past in the European Union.
EU Energy Ministers decided in Luxembourg last week to ban incandescent light bulbs in Europe as of 2010. The move comes just a few days before the lifting of EU import duties on energy-saving lamps from China, which will help bring down retail prices of the most efficient light bulbs.
The incandescent light bulb with its familiar filament, developed by a succession of scientists and inventors throughout the 19th century from Sir Humphrey Davy to Thomas Edison, is deemed no longer efficient enough for the 21st century.
Incandescent bulbs consume three to five times more than efficient lights, such as integrated compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The replacement of the worst-performing lamps with today’s best available technology will contribute to the reduction of domestic energy consumption for lighting by 60 per cent in the EU, equivalent to some 30 million tons of CO2 annually.
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.
Support for the new bulbs has proved controversial in the past as they are considerably more expensive. However, more efficient lights will be cheaper in the long run as they use significantly less energy and last longer. The ban of energy-intensive lamps will also increase demand for more efficient products such as CFLs and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
“These decisions clearly show that promotion of energy efficiency brings benefits to the economy, the climate and consumers,” said Mariangiola Fabbri, WWF Energy Policy Officer.
“The European Union should champion the phase-out of highly energy consuming products, facilitate access of energy saving products to the European market and help consumers make their choice responsibly, in line with the 2020 climate change targets.”
Last year Australia became the first country to announce an outright ban by 2010 on incandescent bulbs. The changeover in the United States will be more gradual, not mandated to begin until 2012 and phased out through 2014.