Ban on Inefficient Lightbulbs Postponed

In April 2007 Federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn claimed  that “Making the switch to more efficient lighting is one of the easiest and most effective things we can do to reduce energy use and harmful emissions”.  “The environmental benefits are clear. By banning inefficient lighting, we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 million tonnes per year,” said Minister Lunn. “More than that, these new standards will help reduce the average household electricity bill by approximately $50 a year.”

In April 2011 the Federal Government quietly announced its intention to postpone the ban on inefficient lightbulbs for two years. The reasons: “to strengthen communication activities, to allow for technology innovations and to consider the concerns expressed about the availability of compliant technologies and perceived health and mercury issues, including safe disposal for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).” According to the Federal Government the increase in energy use resulting from the delay is 88 petajoules, or approaching 1% of Canada’s total energy use (including all sectors and all fuels). The delay will cause an estimated 12.8 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions. Rough calculations made by CIAL Group (Gallon Letter’s parent consultancy) a few years ago indicated that a ban on inefficient incandescent lightbulbs could reduce Ontario electricity consumption by as much as 5%.

The thinking that lies behind the delay is not clear to Gallon Letter. The United States is moving forward with its own energy efficient lighting legislation beginning in January 2012 for 100 watt (or equivalent) lightbulbs. The Canadian Government delay puts Canada a couple of years behind the actions of the United States government and way behind European initiatives. There is virtually no Canadian incandescent lightbulb industry to protect. The government itself admits that “minimum energy performance standards are one of the most cost effective means of achieving this priority” of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution”.

One is left to wonder whether this is not yet another pander to the small population of climate skeptics that seem to hold much sway with the current Federal Government. British Columbia has already implemented regulations with similar objectives to the now postponed Federal program. Ontario has announced that it will do the same but so far there is no sign of any action.

The proposal to delay implementation of the ban on inefficient incandescent light bulbs is subject to a 75 day public consultation period which ends on June 30th 2011. Comments, which we encourage to be in opposition to the proposed delay, should be sent to John Cockburn, Director, Equipment Division, Office of Energy Efficiency, Department of Natural Resources, 930 Carling Avenue (CEF, Building 1, Observatory Crescent), 2nd Floor, Room 25, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y3 (tel.: 613-996-4359; email: equipment@nrcan.gc.ca).

An extensive and, by all appearances, balanced Regulatory Impact Analysis regarding the proposed delay to implementation of the regulations can be found at http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2011/2011-04-16/html/reg1-eng.html

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