China to Phase Out Incandescent Bulbs

China will begin phasing in energy efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs.©

China, maker of 70 percent of the world’s lightbulbs, has followed Australia’s example and agreed to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). China’s decision comes as a result of lobbying by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), an independent grantmaking institution focused on helping developing countries undertake sustainability projects.

"We are starting a world campaign to ban all inefficient lightbulbs," says Monique Barbut, the GEF’s CEO. "And China has just agreed." She adds that the transition would be made over the next decade. Australia announced it would phase out incandescents by 2010, and GEF is working with the Australian government to help get the Chinese phase-out up and running.

According to Barbut, China’s switch to CFL bulbs could offset 500 million tons of carbon dioxide, the world’s chief greenhouse gas, annually. GEF will commit $25 million to the Chinese effort to ban incandescent bulbs, which use four to five times as much electricity as CFLs to produce the same amount of light. GEF is currently in talks with Mexico, Indonesia, Venezuela and Costa Rica about banning incandescent bulbs as well.

One of the wealthiest yet least-known environmental funding agencies worldwide, the Washington, DC-based GEF is the financial arm for several international intergovernmental agreements dealing with topics ranging from biodiversity, climate change, persistent organic pollutants, international waters, ozone depletion and desertification.

Sources: Planet Ark; Global Environment Facility