LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Accelerating the transition to clean, LED lighting in Latin America and the Caribbean would prevent the region from becoming a dumping ground for inefficient technologies.
Rise Above and Beyond
Policymakers in the region have already taken significant steps to remove mercury from the market, moving the region closer to a safe, mercury-free future. At the upcoming Minamata Convention Conference of Parties (COP4), the region can fast track the transition to clean lighting by supporting a proposed amendment by the Africa region.
Mitigate Against Dumping of Outdated Technologies
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is an import-based market for fluorescents. Fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, a known pollutant. At the end of life, fluorescents are discarded in the general waste streams where due to their fragility, they break releasing mercury into the environment. Despite this risk, only a few LAC countries have specific bills on e-waste management in place.
By supporting the amendment, the policymakers will protect their region from becoming a dumping ground for toxic mercury-containing lamps that threaten human and environmental health.
Reduce Strain on National Grids
Inter-America Development Bank projects LAC power needs to grow by more than 91% through 2040, reaching over 2,970 TWh – growing at an average annual rate of 2.4%. Final electricity consumption increased by 5.4% annually from 1971 to 2013, reaching over 1,333 TWh in 2013. This rapid expansion is primarily the result of persistent economic expansion, rapid urbanization, and the rise of the middle class.
The region will need to add nearly 1,500 TWh of electricity to keep up with rising demand for lighting products.
The industry is the biggest industry consumer, accounting for more than 46% of the total electricity demand of the region while commercial and public services accounted for 22% of electricity consumption in 2013.
Transitioning to energy-saving LEDs would ease the growing burden on national grids and help to meet projected energy demands.
LEDs are energy-saving technologies, consuming up to 50% less energy than conventional forms of lighting (fluorescents and incandescent). Ending the use of toxic fluorescent bulbs ensures that the region has access to the most efficient, clean lighting solutions that will both save consumers money and lower energy demand on the national grid.
In May 2021, Colombia announced it would no longer allow the manufacture, import or export of products containing added mercury. The policy, following the framework of the Minamata Convention, put Colombia on the forefront of the transition to cleaner, safer consumer products for Colombian homes and businesses.
Carlos Correa, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development noted the significant environmental health benefits associated with the decree, writing that the policy “is a great advance for the country. With this measure, we seek to protect the environment. We are making steady progress on one of our main goals: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2030."
Latin America and the Caribbean can join the African region to advance the Minamata Convention and spearhead the global transition to mercury-free lightingAnita Willcox, Country Engagement Lead, Latin America and Caribbean, Clean Lighting Coalition