Low hanging fruit and lost opportunity

I hope the New Zealand Government feels shamed by the news that incandescent light bulbs can no longer be sold in Europe. It could have been so here but following the 2008 election, proclaiming the sanctity of consumer choice, one of the early actions of the then Minister of Energy Gerry Brownlee was to reverse the Labour Government’s decision to phase out incandescent light bulbs. Almost equally dismaying was the statement by the Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff in 2009 that the Labour Government decision was a mistake in the first place. “We’d stopped listening to what people’s priorities were,” he said.

It’s hard to make any sense of the reversal of former Government policy on incandescents other than in the most cynical of political terms. It is in direct contradiction to any concern they express to tackle climate change. Lighting has been estimated to use nearly 20% of the world’s electricity and six years ago the International Energy Agency produced a report which concluded that a global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world’s electricity bill by nearly one-tenth. It is a low-hanging fruit in the reduction of carbon emissions. Even the US is to phase out incandescents.

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