Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Banning the bulb

I considered writing what might have been a rather deflating post, about either the news that China is set to bypass the US as the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases next year (not 2025, not 2010, next year, in time for Olympics); the unfortunate twisting of an interesting new paper on wind shear, hurricanes and climate change by Gabe Vecchi at nearby GFDL; or the leaked and already battered new Canadian emissions policy.

But there is some very good news: following on recent pronouncements by Australia, California and the province of Ontario, the Government of Canada has decided to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs by the year 2012.

I’ll dig into the rest of the new Canadian emissions policy later; frankly, I’m sick of analyzing the Canadian federal policies since they never seem to last more than a month or two. The bulb ban, however, is one thing that will stick, regardless of policy and government. The Ontario decision had already created a buzz; the federal ban will only increase the chatter and excitement (examples here, here).

Hopefully, it will also serve as an example. The country, every country, needs an overarching climate and emissions policy, complete with hard GHG emissions targets, plans for a carbon market or tax, etc. It also needs some actual direct actions that will guarantee GHG emissions reductions. Sure, the bulb ban is a drop in the bucket, accounting for at most 2% of the Canada's emissions. But at least the bucket is not entirely empty.

I’m no politician – too much compromise, too much tie-wearing for me – but my experience says this type of policy is a real political winner. It is simple, direct, something that impacts life at home. If the Conservative government is smart, they would follow this announcement with “win-win” interventions that will reduce emissions, things like banning the sale of inefficient appliances, setting building codes, etc. If not, you can be sure the Liberals and other opposition parties will.

1 comment:

Simon Donner said...

The Toronto Star has a summary of the new Canadian policy: