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Multi billion dollar benefits of global switch to energy-efficient lighting
01/ 12/ 2010

Multi billion dollar benefits of global switch to energy-efficient lightingCancun, 1 December 2010 - Indonesia could save $1 billion a year and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by eight million tonnes of CO2 annually - the equivalent of taking two million cars off the road a year - by switching to energy-saving bulbs .

South Africa might save US$280 million a year and remove emissions equal to 625,000 cars annually by following a similar path, say findings released, Wednesday, at the climate convention meeting by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Mexico would save US$900 million, reducing 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year in a soon to be announced plan to replace incandescent lamps in the country. With the electricity saved from this small shift, 3 coal power plants would become unnecessary.

It is expected that Brazil will save US$2 billion a year and 4 million tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent emissions from 1 million cars - when legislation in the country is finalized, by mid 2012.

For the Ukraine, an economy in transition, the cost savings could be US$210 million per annum with greenhouse gas reductions of 2 million tonnes of CO2 a year - equal to taking half a million cars off the road annually.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "In reality, the actual economic benefits could be even higher. A switch to efficient lighting in Indonesia, for example, would avoid the need to build 3.5 coal-fired power stations costing US$2.5 billion and similar findings come from other country assessments".

"Such calculations do not include the wider environmental, health and 'Green Economy' benefits to communities and countries of switching away from, for example, fuels such as kerosene and reducing emissions from sources such as fossil-fueled power stations - an estimated 1.8 million deaths a year are linked with in-door and 800,000 with out-door air pollution: more efficient lighting has a role to play here too".

"For the past two decades, the GEF has championed market efforts to expand efficient lighting to developing countries throughout the world," said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility. "En.lighten is the latest initiative funded by the GEF in partnership with UNEP and leading global lighting manufacturers to accelerate market transformation of efficient lighting technologies on a global scale. Through this initiative, we hope to build a strong partnership with the private sector to encourage innovation and to help those who need our help the most build brighter futures today and for the next generation."

The 100 Country Lighting Assessment findings have come from the 'en.lighten initiative'- a partnership led by UNEP involving companies Osram and Philips.

The initiative, which today launched detailed market assessments of the environmental and economic potential of a switch to efficient lighting in 100 countries, is supported by the Global Environment Facility under its Earth Fund. The assessments analyze the benefits of shifting the obsolete incandescent lamp technology to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Larger savings are expected to be achieved if other inefficient lighting technologies are also substituted, such as inefficient tube lights or inefficient halogens.

The assessments show that in Africa, a country such as Nigeria could cut its electricity consumption by over 15 per cent in a switch to energy efficient lighting while reducing CO2 emissions from fuel combustion by close to five per cent.

In Asia, a country like Cambodia could save over 30 per cent of its electricity consumption while reducing CO2 emissions by more than 13 per cent.

In Uzbekistan, electricity consumption saving could be over 20 per cent; in Croatia, nearly 10 per cent ; in Guatemala also close to 10 per cent and in Yemen just over 10 per cent.

"We believe that the en.lighten initiative is an excellent example of a new category of public/private partnerships that will help accelerate sustainable growth in emerging and developing countries," says Harry Verhaar, Sr. Director Energy & Climate Change, Philips Lighting. "The switch to energy efficient lighting solutions represents a triple win for these countries and in addition this sectoral lighting approach is also a bottom-up initiative that compliments the top-down UNFCCC process," he says.

According to Wolfgang Gregor, Sr. Vice-President, Sustainability for OSRAM GmbH, "We are not only responsible for what we are doing, but also for what we are not doing. Multinational lighting companies can no longer neglect the populations in developing and emerging markets. That is why OSRAM has given its firm commitment to the en.lighten initiative, as well as to combating the use of kerosene as a part of our off grid lighting project."

A principle and readily available technology is the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). Unlike old incandescent light bulbs which produce 95 per cent heat and just five per cent light, CFLs produce an equivalent amount of light using 75 per cent less energy. They also last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs.

But some critics have pointed to the health hazardous mercury, used in CFLs, as an issue that raises a question mark over the technology's environmental credentials.

Take-back schemes and the safe disposal of CFLs is clearly a key issue which 'en.lighten' is also addressing - this is a central challenge, especially in developing countries.

Meanwhile, other mercury-free technologies are also being promoted including Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

Nevertheless given that the main source of new mercury emissions world-wide is from the burning of coal, estimates indicate that overall it is far more environmentally-friendly to switch from old bulbs to new ones.

One recent study by Yale University estimated that if the United States switched to CFLs, the energy savings at power stations would lead to cuts in mercury emissions of 25,000 tonnes a year.

The 100 country assessments come in the wake of a UNEP study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from 25 leading climate modeling centres world-wide.

This showed that if all countries met in full their pledges linked with last year's Copenhagen Accord, emissions by 2020 could fall to 49 Gigatonnes (billion).

It could leave a gap of 5Gt between this current ambition and where scientists say emissions need to be in 2020 to stand a reasonable chance of keeping a global temperature rise to less than 2 degree C by 2050.

The world needs quick wins to show that climate change can be controlled. A global transition to efficient lighting is perhaps the easiest method. If achieved swiftly, this victory would generate the momentum needed to achieve greater CO2 reductions in other sectors and assist towards stabilizing the climate below 2 degrees.

In parallel to the assessment work, en.lighten is convening experts from over 30 developing and developed countries and various sectors, including; governments, civil society and private sector, to develop a draft road-map for the global phase-out of inefficient lighting.. The road map will include policy, technical and financial recommendations to support this transition. UNEP expects the draft road map to be tabled for global consultation in the second half of 2011.

Mr. Steiner added: "Among the low hanging fruit in the climate change challenge, a switch to far more efficient lighting must rank as among the lowest. There are multiple cost effective opportunities for rapidly bridging the near term 'Gigatone gaps' from sharp increases in renewable energy to cuts in non-C02 pollutants such as methane and black carbon-readily available, efficient lighting systems is one path that is literally available at the flip of a policy switch".

Key Lighting Facts

Globally, 50 to 70 per cent of total lighting market sales are still of inefficient incandescent lamps. A market shift, from incandescent lamps to energy-efficient alternatives, would cut the world's electricity demand for lighting by over 2 per cent.

A report by US Global Industry Analysts Inc indicates that by 2010, the industrial, commercial, residential and public lighting market will exceed US US$94 billion with a great deal of the growth in developing economies.

Using current economic and energy-efficiency trends, it is projected that global demand for artificial light will be 80 per cent higher by 2030 if no switch occurs with a great deal of that linked to the construction and operation of new buildings in developing economies including China.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated in 2007, the total electricity consumption due to lighting at 2650 TWh. This represents almost 19 per cent of global electricity use (15-17 per cent greater than nuclear or hydro power).
The total global GHG emissions accrued to lighting electricity consumption was estimated in 2005 by the IEA at 1,889 MtCO2 of which grid based lighting systems contribute to 1,528 MtCO2. This is equivalent to approximately 8 per cent of world emissions or 70 per cent of the world passenger vehicle emissions

If lighting technologies and efficiencies do not improve, global lighting electricity demand will reach almost twice the output of all modern nuclear power plants amounting to 4250 TWh, (TerraWatt Hours).

Up to 95 per cent of the energy emitted by incandescent lamps is heat, and their efficiency is inherently low. Comparing the two types of lighting, incandescent bulbs last around 1,000 hours which is significantly shorter than energy saving lamps, with life spans of 6,000 to 12,000 hours.

Some 40 countries are currently involved in transforming their lighting markets including phase-downs and phase-outs of old bulbs including Cuba, Australia and the 27 member states of the European Union the United States, Canada and the Philippines.

Several other developing countries are already involved in efforts to promote the adoption of CFLs and to phase-out incandescent lamps - some with GEF support and the involvement of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

These include China, Russia, Viet-Nam, Morocco and Cote d'Ivoire

Historically, the main barrier hampering the deployment of energy-efficient lighting products was their high initial cost.

When first launched in the early 1980s, CFLs were 20 to 30 times more expensive to produce than their incandescent equivalents. However, CFL costs have steadily declined through use and increased competition. They now retail for about four times the price of an incandescent lamp.

Consumers have traditionally been slow to come on board and according to some reports, were initially unimpressed by early models, disliking the look and functionality of early models.

Manufacturers say consumers need to understand how using energy saving bulbs will allow for long term cost savings, as well as be assured of the quality and reliability of new models.
Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain mercury, which complicates their disposal. Mercury is a hazardous substance in fluorescent lamps.
The average mercury content in a CFL bulb is about 3 milligrams - roughly the amount it would take to cover the tip of a ball-point pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain 500 milligrams of mercury - the equivalent of more than 100 CFLs
Experts emphasize that mercury is also emitted from coal-fired power stations. Studies indicate that the level of emissions from power stations linked with lighting the world's old bulbs are far higher than those linked with the disposal of energy efficient bulbs.

Some manufacturers have voluntarily reduced the mercury content in CFLs by about 80 per cent in the past decade, to as little as 2 mg per bulb.

Research is ongoing to achieve further mercury reductions.

One promising innovation in non-domestic lighting is the development of solid state lighting (SSL).

This technology is expected to achieve efficiencies at least ten times higher than incandescent lamps and up to twice as high as fluorescent lamps.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps, aside from not containing mercury have other advantages such as long life, warm light colour similar to incandescent lamps, low heat generation and the ability to work with dimming switches in certain lamps.

The en.lighten initiative - Efficient Lighting for Developing and Emerging Countries - including the 100 Country Lighting Assessment is available at:

For More Information Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when traveling: +41 795965737, or e-mail:

Shereen Zorba, UNEP Newsdesk, on Tel: +254 713601259, or e-mail:

Further Resources
en.lighten Initiative
UN Climate Change Conference Cancun
UNEP and Climate Change
Emissions Gap Report