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Issue 8
January , 2008
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Incentives for CFLs sans mercury safeguards pose serious environmental threat: Toxics Link and Greenpeace

Source: Toxics Link, Date: January , 2008

The draft proposal for a market mechanism to promote energy efficiency in the lighting being finalised by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) sector fails to adequately address mercury contamination by CFLs, Toxics Link and Greenpeace have stated in a letter to Sushil Kumar Shinde, Minister of Power.

The BEE hopes that this proposal, which uses the carbon credits earned for reduction in CO2 emissions from the energy savings to fund a drop in price of CFLs, will make CFLs competitive in the market, thereby encouraging consumers to make the switch to climate friendly, energy efficient lighting.

The present draft proposal is aiming to distribute 400 million CFLs in a timespan of three years, replacing about 75 per cent of the incandescent bulbs currently used in India with CFLs. If effective, this program will be a significant step to reduce energy consumption in the country and could reduce the total CO2 emissions of India by up to 5 per cent.

"We acknowledge that replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs will significantly reduce the energy consumption and hence the mercury emissions from coal fired power plants (the biggest emission source of mercury in the country).

Nevertheless, Greenpeace and Toxics Link believe the proposed market mechanism falls short in taking proactive measures to also handle the mercury contamination caused by CFLs and urges that a clear road map for containing the mercury contamination from the CFLs during the entire life cycle of this product also be made part of the proposal. So far, the BEE only talks about putting in place ‘take back’ mechanisms that include a financial incentive for consumers who give back their CFLs at the end of their useful life," the letter reads.

Toxics Link and Greenpeace have called upon the Power Ministry to ensure that the BEE closes this serious loophole in its final proposal. It must move beyond a mere ‘take back’ scheme for fluorescent lamps that is being bandied about as a solution, to actually address the contamination issue with progressive systems.

To read the specific recommendations download the letter here: