Central American Ministers Adopt Efficient Lighting Strategy, Action Plan

sica-meso-unep-enlighten6 December 2013: The energy ministers of all of the countries in Central America, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico have adopted a regional strategy on efficient lighting that will phase out incandescent bulbs, mercury content in other lamp types, increase lighting efficiency and lead to a common approach to handling lighting waste.

The Act committing the eight countries to implement the regulatory and other measures outlined in the Efficient Lighting Strategy for Central America was signed at a 6 December 2013 Council of Energy Ministers meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA), along with a plan of action for implementing the Strategy.

The Strategy and action plan commit Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama to phase-out inefficient incandescent and halogen lamps by the end of 2016, and to approve harmonized minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and technical regulations on efficiency labeling for lighting. The Strategy also calls for setting a common maximum mercury content for lamps that contain it, such as linear fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), in line with the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Strategy further calls for the development of an agreement to ensure that there is a take-back system for lighting products at the end of their product life to prevent them from becoming e-waste.

The Strategy also includes: the promotion of the use of efficient lamps among low-income families; awareness campaigns to educate end users on the economic and environmental benefits of efficient lighting; and work by the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Global Centre for Efficient Lighting to help a regional laboratory in Costa Rica coordinate training and testing in lamp safety, energy efficiency, quality control and determination of mercury content.

The Strategy's designers estimate that its implementation can accrue aggregated energy savings for the eight countries of over US$1 billion, reducing electricity use by over 2,4000 GWh per year and lowering carbon dioxide emissions by almost two million tons per year.

The Strategy was developed with the help of UNEP's en.lighten initiative and the Mesoamerican Project, in cooperation with UNEP's Regional Gateway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action in Latin America and the Caribbean (REGATTA). The Mesoamerican Project is a high-level political organization that promotes cooperation and development in the eight SICA countries with the assistance of Colombia and Mexico. [UNEP Press Release (In Spanish)] [Mesoamerican Project Press Release (In Spanish)]