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The Climate Group call to make global street lighting LED-based - or as efficient - by 2020

Date
18 June 2012
The Climate Group call to make global street lighting LED-based - or as efficient - by 2020

RIO DE JANEIRO: Highly efficient LED lighting has the potential to transform cities and deliver major cost and greenhouse gas reductions for governments, businesses and consumers. These were the key messages from an event in Rio today that saw the launch of The Climate Group’s new Lighting the Clean Revolution report and a call to action to make all street lighting, on a global basis, LED-based (or as efficient) by 2020.

The event was held as part of the UN Global Compact’s Corporate Sustainability Forum, one of the focal points of business discussions at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Speaking at the event were representatives from Philips Lighting, the Government of South Australia, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and the Rio City Government.

The Climate Group’s Jim Walker began by outlining the findings of the new report, based on four years of outdoor trials from The Climate Group’s‘Lightsavers’ project. Covering 13 cities and 27 different LED products, the trials had demonstrated an average energy saving of 60% for LED units compared to existing lighting fixtures. The results had also shown that LEDs were more effective in terms of delivering light to where it should go, producing a better quality of light for users, and being remarkably durable.  

Harry Verhaar, Senior Director of Energy and Climate at Philips Lighting, then outlined some of the other benefits that LEDs could bring, not least of which was substantial cost savings. Some 40% of global electricity use, for example, could be avoided if the world switched to LEDs. This equated to 1.3 trillion euros in savings or the equivalent of not having to build some 642 coal fired power stations. Current projections suggested that 80% of lighting would be LED by 2020.

Paul Caica, South Australia’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, then highlighted the raft of measures that had been introduced to drive low carbon transformation in his state. This included switching 10% of lighting in Adelaide, the state’s capital city to LEDs. A new draft strategy on outdoor lighting was expected to see this level increase substantially. 

Julio Carlos Moranti, from the City of Rio Government, drew attention to the cost of Rio’s existing lighting infrastructure. Much of this was due to maintenance. The city was attempting to cut costs by recycling a lot of its lighting fixtures. It was also introducing LEDs to cut down on maintenance. Major attractions such as Christ the Redeemer and the Metropolitan Cathedral were now lit by LEDs.

From a finance perspective, Abyd Karmali, Managing Director and Global Head of Carbon Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, considered the financing options available to scaling up LED lighting. Drawing attention to the financing models outlined in the Lighting the Clean Revolution report, he highlighted green bonds and new financial institutions, such as UK’s Green Investment Bank, as offering particularly interesting opportunities for delivering finance.

PwC’s Gus Schellenkens, Director of Sustainability and Climate Change, proposed a three level model for thinking about the successful scale up of LEDs. The first level was the status of the technology itself; was it cost competitive and mature. The second was the social and technical system in which the technology operated such as the market structure, financing arrangements and planning and permitting systems in place. And the third level was the overall economic, social and political climate, which needed to be supportive of the other levels. If these were all in place for LED lighting, which increasingly seemed to be the case, then rapid scale up was likely.

The event was concluded by The Climate Group’s CEO, Mark Kenber. Highlighting the tremendous opportunity that LEDs offered – in terms of cost savings, emission reduction potential and better, smarter cities – he announced a call to action to make all new street lighting LED based (or as efficient) by 2015, and all street lighting the same by 2020.  The announcement is an open invitation to businesses and governments at all levels to work with The Climate Group to deliver this vision and will be included as an official commitment from the Corporate Sustainability Forum.

Read: LED street lighting trials in 12 of the world's largest cities shows up to 85% savings

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