By phasing out incandescent lightbulbs, Australia could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by four million tons. But environmentalists say the measure is only a first step.© GETTY IMAGES
Australia announced a bold step last week in efforts to stave off global warming: banning incandescent lightbulbs and replacing them with more efficient compact fluorescents nationwide. According to Australia’s environment minister Malcolm Turnbull, the goal of the phase out, scheduled to take place over three years, is to reduce the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by four million tons while cutting household energy bills by as much as two-thirds.
Australian environmentalists praised their government’s decision, but urged even bolder action to stave off global warming. "It is a good, positive step. But it is a very small step. It needs to be followed through with a lot of different measures," says Josh Meadows of the Australian Conservation Foundation. He points out that the vast majority of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industry, such as coal-fired power plants, and not from residential lightbulbs. Australia is the only major industrialized nation other than the U.S. unwilling to sign the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
While Australia is the first country to attempt the lightbulb phase-out, similar bulb replacement campaigns have found success in Cuba and Venezuela. And last month, a California assemblyman announced a proposal to ban incandescent bulbs statewide, while a New Jersey legislator proposed a similar ban for that state’s government buildings.