South Africa, which earlier this month hosted the turbulent climate change conference (COP17) in Durban, has announced it is supporting en.lighten, a global initiative to phase-out inefficient lighting by 2016. South Africa promised to transition from inefficient incandescent lamps to more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by 2016.
en.lighten was launched in 2009 through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Private sector partners include Osram AG, Phillips Lighting and the National Lighting Test Centre of China (NLTC).
“South Africa is working with UNEP and its Global Partnership to share these lessons learned with other African countries willing to phase-out and reap the benefits that a transition would bring,” said H.E. Ms. Duipo Peters, South Africa’s Minister of Energy. “We encourage all countries that have not yet phased-out inefficient lighting to join the UNEP Global Partnership and work with us to move towards an efficient lighting world to mitigate climate change,” she added. Energy efficiency is unanimously regarded as the emissions-curbing measure that can yield the fastest sustainability results since it does not rely on new technologies. The International Energy Agency says that almost 20 per cent of total global electricity production and six per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are caused by electricity for lighting. en.lighten hopes to reduce these emissions by 50 per cent.
“If a global temperature rise is to be kept under 2?C, we need to act on multiple fronts, including voluntary and legally binding actions,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. “Fast tracking more energy-efficient lighting is without doubt one of the low hanging fruit offering not only emissions saving but cost savings to a company or a household’s budget. The aim of achieving a global phase-out by 2016 is not only possible but infinitely do-able,” he added. The UNEP estimates that over 400 million homes in South Africa will be able to be electrified with the electricity saved from phasing-out incandescent lamps. The country will become the first African nation to undertake measures to phase-out inefficient lighting.
“South Africa faces important power shortages which will be greatly mitigated by the phase-out of incandescent lamps,” stated Ms Peters, South Africa’s Minister of Energy.The UNEP acknowledges that CFLs, like all fluorescent lamps, contain mercury. Although more complicated, CFLs can be disposed of safely. The UNEP said that the en.lighten initiative “will support countries in setting up legislation and sustainable end-of-life approaches for spent lamps.”