EU Commission Slows Mercury Lighting Phase Out, Posing Danger for Import Markets
A new proposal from the European Commission slates a 2027 phase out date for the manufacture and export of select fluorescent lamps, impeding a timely global transition to mercury free lighting. The proposal, meant to harmonize existing mercury-related regulations, falls short of its mandate to protect people and the planet from mercury pollution, clean lighting experts say.
The EU has led the global transition to LEDs in recent years – supported by the region’s extensive LED manufacturing sector. However, this proposal would allow fluorescent manufacturers to continue producing obsolete tri-band phosphor linear and non-linear lamps for export to less regulated economies.
“The longer the EU manufactures fluorescents, the more toxic, inefficient bulbs are exported to unprotected markets,” said Rachel Kamande, Campaign Lead at the Clean Lighting Coalition. “The EU has proven itself as a clean lighting leader – this delayed phase out does not align with their past commitment to protect underregulated markets.”
In the proposal justification, the Commission states its objective to ‘lead by example, and, in line with international commitments, ensure that hazardous chemicals banned in the European Union are not produced for export, including by amending relevant legislation if and as needed.’ The regulation is meant to support the 2020 EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and 2021 EU Zero Pollution Action Plan (ZPAP) adopted under the European Green Deal (EGD).
The EU Commission’s proposed phase out date for the manufacture and export of linear and non-linear tri-band phosphor lamps does not align with dates in the Africa Region’s proposed amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP5).
Each year the phase out of linear fluorescents is delayed after 2025 significantly diminishes global benefits – approximately 300 Mt of CO2 emissions are lost for each year of delay.
“The EU has the LED production capabilities to shut down domestic fluorescent production now,” says Ana Maria Carreño, Director of the Clean Lighting Coalition. “By keeping the doors open to mercury-ladened lighting for another four years, the Commission is threatening the health and safety of millions with unnecessary mercury pollution.”
About the Clean Lighting Coalition: The Clean Lighting Coalition is a global partnership to capture the health and environmental benefits of eliminating mercury-based lighting. www.cleanlightingcoalition.org
Alexia Ross, Communications Lead, Clean Lighting Coalition
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