10,000 energy wasting lightbulbs crushed

Feature story - 20 April, 2007
Energy wasting incandescent lightbulbs are so dangerously inefficient it's better for the climate (and your wallet) to smash even brand new ones rather than use them. So we got a road roller and crushed 10,000 energy wasting lightbulbs at the Brandenburg Gate, while EU and G8 ministers were meeting in Berlin today.

As G8 and EU ministers gather in Berlin to discuss energy efficiency measures, Greenpeace uses a mechanised road roller to crush ten thousand energy-wasting light bulbs at the Brandenburg Gate.

We've used this occasion to launch our campaign for tough European efficiency standards for energy using products, and an immediate ban on incandescent lightbulbs.  If EU governments are serious about meeting their CO2 reduction commitments, they should at least be able to act quickly on something as simple as lightbulbs.

Some lightbulbs are more cool than others

It's debatable whether you can call compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) "hip", but they're definitely more cool - literally.  Incandescent bulbs waste over 90 percent of the energy they use as heat.  CFLs use five times less energy - meaning less global warming pollution.  

Newer quality CFLs also produce mellow pleasing light, and come on right away without flickering.  

According to the International Energy Agency, electrical lighting uses 19 percent of all electricity produced - more than all energy produced by nuclear power.  Governments and even lightbulb manufactures are already calling for an end to energy wasting lightbulbs.  

European Union situation

As a rough calculation:  Every (11 Watt) CFL saves 20kg CO2 per year on average. So for Europe... 20kg CO2 x 1.6 billion bulbs sold = 32 million tons CO2 potential savings per year.  

By just switching from old to new lighting technology in the EU we could close down 25 medium sized power plants (2TWh/year), and possibly save Europe 3-5 billion euros.

On the EU level there's a process called the Ecodesign directive, which could eventually result in effectively banning energy wasting lightbulbs, but so far it's just talk.  Rather than waiting, EU ministers should instigate immediate national bans on lightbulbs, and push for enforcement of an Europe-wide mandatory efficiency standard on domestic lighting by 2010.

What you can do

The first and easiest thing is to replace your energy wasting incandescent lightbulbs with modern CFLs.  It's better to throw out even brand new energy wasting incandescent bulbs then use them.  Switching to CFLs will reduce your personal energy use, prevent pollution and save you some money - while sending a message to politicians and business leaders.

Sign up for bright ideas

Sign up for our Bright Ideas email list. We will be in touch soon with more practical steps you can take to be part of the energy [r]evolution.


We don't accept funding from governments or corporations. We rely on donations from people like you.