EU keeps unfair market barriers on energy-saving lamps | WWF

EU keeps unfair market barriers on energy-saving lamps

Posted on 29 August 2007
Brussels, Belgium – Today, the EU Commission proposed to continue anti-dumping duties on energy-saving lamps imported from China. WWF considers this proposal disappointing, unfair and seriously inconsistent with the ambitious EU targets to improve energy efficiency in Europe and to curb climate change.

“This is narrowly protectionist and sends a regressive message to developing country producers that they will be excluded from markets for cleaner products created by the higher environmental standards expected by European consumers,” says Eivind Hoff, WWF Trade and Investment Advisor.

“This case shows a severe contradiction in EU policies. On the one hand, Europe has committed to an ambitious energy efficiency objective and on the other hand it continues to impose taxes on imports of green products such as the energy-efficient light bulbs from China.”

With a rapid switch to more efficient lamps, 23 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved per year, equivalent to 0.5% of EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Integrated compact fluorescent lamps (CFL-i) consume one-fifth of energy compared to ordinary incandescent lamps and last five times longer. At present, CFL-I are three to six times more expensive, deterring purchasers from shifting to more climate-friendly products. Chinese energy-efficient lamps are a prime example of how emerging economies can help to speed up technological shifts by rapidly producing, at low cost, products that reduce significantly the EU’s environmental impacts.

About 80% of all lighting in EU households are provided by ordinary incandescent light bulbs, and more than two billion incandescent bulbs are still sold every year in the EU, as opposed to 270 million CFL-i.

WWF believes that the EU has failed an important test to ensure consistency between its trade instruments and its policies and targets on environment, climate change and energy efficiency.

“There is a need for an overall revision of the Europe’s Trade Defence Instruments, if we are to take Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's call for zero tariffs on ‘green products’ seriously,” says Eivind Hoff.

• Since 2001, the EU has imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 66% on CFL-i imported from China to protect European manufacturers. The decision was based on a Commission investigation concluding that there was unfair competition between EU and Chinese producers. Today, the European Commission proposed to continue anti-dumping duties for one year. The proposal will be voted upon by the EU Member States in the Advisory Committee on Anti-Dumping on 6 or 12 September. The final decision should be made by 19 October and it will take effect immediately after publication in the Official Journal.

• Under current EU regulations, the European Commission investigates unfair trade practices and injuries to domestic EU producers and on this basis makes a recommendation on whether protective measures need to be imposed. The recommendation is purely based on economic criteria, but the Commission is currently preparing proposals that might change these rules.

• Chinese CFL-i have on average a shorter life span than those produced in the EU, but the appropriate way to improve life span in a non-discriminatory manner would be to enforce minimum requirements under the energy-using products directive (EuP), rather than to impose anti-dumping duties. As regards to the slightly higher amount of mercury in Chinese CFL-i, all lamps sold in the EU – whether produced in the EU or abroad – must contain less than 0.5 milligram of mercury; in addition, the EU Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) obliges Member States to ensure collection and recycling of products such as CFL-i.

• Production and transport account for less than 1% of the total global warming impact through the life cycle of a CFL-i used in Europe, regardless of whether it is produced in China or in Europe.

• All European lighting companies have already agreed to phase out incandescent lamps in favour of a switch to CFL-i. The real question is how make the shift happen as quickly as possible in order to achieve the EU climate targets by 2020.

• In March 2007 the European Council (EU Heads of State and Government) committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by up to 30%, with a target of 20% energy efficiency and 20% energy from renewable sources.

For further information:
Claudia Delpero, Communications Manager
WWF European Policy Office
Tel +32 2 740 0925