Imports and sales of 100 watt and higher incandescent bulbs will be banned from October next year, while those of 60 watts and above will be banned from October 2014. Xie Ji, deputy director of the environmental protection department with the National Development and Reform Commission, announced, with incandescent lamps of 15 watts or higher would be banned from 2016 if the scheme was a success. The NDRC has estimated that lighting accounts for 12% of China’s total electricity used and the switch will save 48 billion kilowatt hours of power per year, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 48 million tonnes annually.
The move has been forced from outside China. The Global Environment Facility fund, which has invested millions of dollars in China to encourage the phase-out, says that moving to efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways for countries to cut carbon emissions.
Christophe Bahuet, the deputy country director of the United Nations Development Programme, said: “I think what’s important for us is that China is joining an international trend. It also sends a signal that will inspire others.”
Lighting professionals in China are less enthusiastic for the ban. Liu Shengping, the secretary general of the China Association of Lighting Industry, said that it was “unrealistic” to require energy efficient lights were used everywhere. “As long as the demand exists, Chinese manufacturers can hardly pull the plug on the production line.”Wang Jinsui, the president of the China Illuminating Engineering Society, told the China Daily newspaper that the government should consider subsidies because many families would not be able to afford the more expensive energy-efficient bulbs.
Given the massive and typically very poor population in China the personal burden on families of having to pay for expensive compact fluorescent lamps will be very great. The demand for CFL will also challenge the burgeoning lamp industry in China Currently Europe and the USA are almost entirely dependent on China for CFL energy savers. We have already sen an effective ban on the export from China of rare earths essential for the manufacture of fluorescent material, If this ban happens and the internal Chinese market increases demand there may well be CFL shortages in Europe and the USA with consequent increases in retail prices and potential lack of availability. If China increases lamp production then there will be further increases in Cinnabar mining and Mercury production with consequent increases in pollution.
It is also unlikely that China will be any more effective that Europe in managing the collection and recycling of dead CFLs from consumers thereby increasing mercury in land fill. Yet again the ban appears as a political tool rather than an effective measure towards sustainability!
Xinhua News Agency,