Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some light on the problem.

Australia, along with the United States, gets a lot of criticism for not signing up to the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. While the US has the highest level of emissions in the world, Australia, at over 500m tonnes of CO2 per annum, has the highest level of emissions per head of population. Surprising, then, that their prime minister has just announced that incandescent light bulbs are to be phased out by 2010, in favour of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

Incandescent light bulbs, the normal filament bulbs, produce their light from a white-hot wire. The problem is that 90% of the energy used is lost in heat. CFLs use energy much more efficiently – and they last a lot longer: 8000 hours rather than 1000 hours. They are more expensive to buy, but prices are coming down and the last lot I bought on the internet came to well under £2 each (including postage).

Australia is not the first to introduce a CFL policy. Cuba started to change over to CFLs two years ago, and when I was there in January 2007 I didn’t see a single traditional filament bulb.