RELEASE: Most of the world says ‘farewell’ to fluorescents

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Scores of governments agree at global conference to phase out all fluorescent lighting by 2027

GENEVA — Nearly 150 countries agreed this week at the Minamata Convention on Mercury Fifth Conference of Parties to phase out fluorescent lighting completely by the end of 2027. Although the United States is exempt from the agreement and isn’t required to phase-out fluorescents at the national level, this action will create tremendous savings worldwide on carbon dioxide emissions, mercury pollution, and utility bills. It also builds significant momentum for U.S. states to continue to phase out mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs so they too will see these economic and public health benefits. So far, seven U.S. states have passed laws ending the sale of fluorescents. 

“With all the problems the world is facing, this global transition away from inefficient toxic light bulbs is a bright spot,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “When we know something can hurt our families and communities, sometimes we don’t have a simple solution, but in this case we do. States ending the sale of fluorescent bulbs will cut mercury exposure and energy waste, delivering lasting environmental and public health benefits.”

The decision is expected to speed up the global adoption of LED bulbs, which are, on average, twice as energy efficient than fluorescents. 

The environmental and public health benefits from the new international agreement are massive. The international appliance efficiency group CLASP estimates the agreement will:

  • Prevent 2.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050
  • Eliminate 158 tons of mercury pollution. This includes mercury released from the light bulbs themselves and avoided mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. 
  • Save $1.13 trillion (in U.S. dollars) on electricity bills worldwide

“We don’t need mercury-laden light bulbs anymore and today we’re a big step closer to moving past them,” said Brian Fadie, state policy manager at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Because the United States federal government isn’t bound by this international agreement, it’s all the more important for individual states to continue phasing out fluorescent bulbs to ensure they don’t continue to see unnecessary mercury pollution and energy waste.”

The international action follows that of seven states from Hawaii to Maine, which have already chosen to phase out mercury-laden light bulbs to reap health and environmental benefits.

“We are thrilled to see our advocacy to drive an equitable, circular economy be effective at preventing toxic mercury pollution from lighting,” said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council. “We proudly sponsored AB 2208 (Kalra) which passed in 2022 in California and ensures 40 million people will be free of new mercury-containing lighting by 2025. AB 2208 paved the way for other states to pass similar bills in 2023, which created momentum to reach this agreement at the Minamata Convention.”

staff | TPIN

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