The toxic by-products of eco-politics
By Christopher Booker
The ban on the sale of 100 watt and frosted bulbs may save tons of CO2 each year, but it is a drop in the ocean when it comes to saving the planet, writes Christopher Booker.
The great light-bulb farce grows ever more bizarre. Apart from the fact that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can offer no legal basis for its supposed ban on the import or sale of 100 watt and frosted bulbs (as reported in my recent columns), it claims, on no real evidence, that its non-legal ban will “save 5 million tons” of CO2 a year. This may sound impressive to those who believe such things are important.Yet it is less than a eighth of the yearly CO2 emissions given off by a single coal-fired power station in Taiwan. According to a Washington research group, the Taiwan Power Company’s plant at Lung-ching emits 43.3 million tons of CO2 a year. In other words, the ban by Defra and the EU makes no contribution to saving the planet. Its only practical consequence is to swell the ego of politicians, while inconveniencing and infuriating millions of homeowners who can no longer buy the light bulbs they prefer.
A similar move will put hundreds of people out of work in the US, where incandescent bulbs are to be phased out between 2012 and 2014. Next July, General Electric (originally founded to make light bulbs) will close three plants employing 400 workers to make incandescent bulbs. GE was one of the firms lobbying for the ban (as did Philips and other bulb manufacturers in the EU), because it makes much greater profits from the more expensive “low energy” bulbs. But this will not create jobs in Europe or the US, because most of the compact fluorescent bulbs using toxic mercury vapour are made in China. There are reports of large numbers of Chinese factory workers suffering from mercury poisoning. Few things in this world are so devious and damaging as the politics of environmentalism.