China programs to phase out incandescent light bulbs

China, which manufactures 70 percent of the world’s light bulbs, has made a commitment to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs —a move that could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 500 million tons annually.

News of China's decision to switch to energy-efficient lighting came just days after the United Kingdom announced a voluntary program to phase out incandescent bulbs by 2011, and as the U.S. Congress considers legistation to make a similar transition by 2014.

China First Developing Country to Pledge Change to Efficient Lighting
China's program to phase out incandescent light bulbs will be formally announced in December at the international climate change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Barbut said.

China is the first developing country to agree to join the program being sponsored by the Global Environment Facility, which is also working with Mexico, Indonesia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and other countries. Barbut said if enough countries agree, the global switch to energy-efficient lighting could be accomplished within 10 years.

The Global Environment Facility, with a trust fund of about $3.2 billion, helps to finance international intergovernmental agreements on biodiversity, climate change, ozone, desertification and other environmental issues. The Facility has pledged about $25 million for the China lighting program.

Lowering the Costs of Energy Efficiency Lighting
As the light bulb switching program spreads from nation to nation, Barbut said the Facility will be developing a fund to help the world’s poor gain better access to energy-saving lighting. Compact fluorescent bulbs typically cost about four times as much as traditional incandescent bulbs, but save money long-term because they use up to 75 percent less energy to produce the same amount of light.

If the move to energy-efficient lighting does become worldwide, the cost of the bulbs is likely to come down as manufacturing is streamlined, the number of light bulb types is reduced from more than 30 to only four or five, and production costs are reduced.

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