Greenpeace urges legal phase out of Incandescent light bulbs against climate change

Press release - 2007-05-10
Greenpeace urges the SAR Administration to legislate for a phase-out of incandescent light bulbs as a kick-off to curb global warming. A survey by Greenpeace shows that 42% of the interviewees continue to use incandescent light bulbs at home, amounting to 4.5 bulbs per household. If all are switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs, 480 thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions can be reduced per annum.

The power consumed by an incandescent light bulb and its CO2 emissions is 5 times more than a fluorescent light bulb. Greenpeace urges the government to phase out incandescent light bulbs as the first step to combat climate change.

This amount to emissions generated from 1,920 roundtrip flights between Hong Kong and Tokyo, and can save energy cost up to HK$600 million.

Greenpeace commissioned the Public Governance Programme of Lingnan University to conduct a survey in April. 671 citizens aged 18 or above were interviewed randomly.

The survey shows that 42% of the interviewees use incandescent light bulbs in their households. This amounts to an average of 4.5 bulbs per household, contributing to one third of their household lighting. The reasons for not completely switching to fluorescent bulbs include: "It's a habit" (19.6%), "fluorescent light bulbs are more expensive / standard light bulbs are cheaper" (8.2%), "fluorescent light bulbs do not fit the lighting design" (14.2%), and "no particular reasons / I don't know" (14.2%) etc.

Greenpeace estimates according to the survey that at least 4.21 million incandescent light bulbs are currently used in local households. A complete switch to fluorescent light bulbs can lead to an estimated saving of 480 thousand tonnes of CO2 per annum and HK$600 million cut in household energy bill (see Table One). Both the environment and the economy will be benefited tremendously by outlawing incandescent light bulbs as a result.

"There are readily available substitutes of incandescent light bulbs for usual electric lighting", said Frances Yeung, Greenpeace Campaigner. "To phase them out is effortless and the government should take this as the first step against global warming without excuse."

Australia  and Canada  just announced a ban on incandescent light bulbs which will be enforced in a couple of years for the sake of energy saving and reduction of greenhouse gases. California and the European Union are also studying the possibility of introducing similar policies.

Burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal releases carbon dioxide, a global warming-causing gas, into the atmosphere. Incandescent light bulbs are extremely energy inefficient as approximately 95% of the energy each light bulb uses is wasted on heating up and only 5% generates visible light. Moreover, the power consumed by an incandescent light bulb and its CO2 emissions is 5 times more than a fluorescent light bulb.

Greenpeace has been appealing to the SAR Administration for an effective policy to tackle global warming, such as massive development of renewable energy, establishing emission standards for greenhouse gases and regulating power plants on its CO2 emissions. However, the government's indifference has shot up greenhouse gas emission in Hong Kong in 2005 by 10% when comparing to that in 1990.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that extreme weathers caused by global warming can lead to billions of people suffering from water shortage, famine, floods and epidemic diseases within the century. The report shows that combating climate change costs only 0.12% of annual global GDP and it may also bring about new economic opportunities.

Table One: Incandescent light bulb vs. Fluorescent light bulb

Estimated No. of Incandescent light bulbs used in Hong Kong households: 4,210,000

Incandescent light bulb

Fluorescent light bulb4


Electricity Consumed (kWh)

740 million

140 million

600 million

Energy Cost

HK$740 million

HK$140 million

HK$600 million

CO2 emissions

590 thousand tonnes

110 thousand tones

480 thousand tonnes