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Global Lighting Challenge

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Lighting accounts for 15% of the global electricity consumption — more than the electricity generated by all the nuclear power stations in the world — and 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. An overnight global transition to highly efficient lighting could avoid more than 800 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to displacing 684 coal-fired power plants for a year.

At CEM6, 12 countries and the European Commission came together to launch the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC) – a global race to push the global market toward cumulative global sales of 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality, and affordable advanced lighting products, such as LEDs.

  • Since its launch, the GLC built a public-private volunteer coalition of more than 60 governments, manufacturers, retailers, and expert groups working together to accomplish its 10 billion product goal.
  • The GLC put market actors on the same side of the climate change project by promoting businesses who make commitments, and showcasing governments who make endorsements.
  • At CEM8, the GLC announced that it exceeded its 10 product goal with commitments to deploy 14 billion high efficiency, high quality lighting products!

Since its launch, the GLC built a volunteer coalition with more than 60 governments, manufacturers, retailers, and expert groups working together to accomplish its 10 billion product goal.

The GLC was originally inspired by India’s Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA), which is working to deploy nearly 800 million LED lights to residents throughout the country. Competitive bidding by manufacturers who participate in the UJALA program has led to sales of over 150 million certified LED bulbs and has brought the price per bulb in India down to less than $1 per bulb.

The GLC has inspired significant efforts to take up the challenge, leading to significant impacts and successes.

  • UrbanVolt met their commitment two years ahead of schedule, to convert 1 million inefficient lights.
  • Philips Lighting announced its aspiration to sell more than two billion energy efficient LED lights by 2020. Reaching this goal would save energy equivalent to decommissioning 60 medium-sized coal-fired power stations with emissions equivalent to 24 million cars.
  • The Vatican endorsed the GLC in a letter to the CEM. Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences wrote, “I want to call out and commend the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Lighting Challenge, which is working to deploy 10 billion energy saving LED light bulbs as quickly as possible. Success in this challenge can significantly decrease energy consumption around the world while at the same time increase access to modern lighting services for the poorest of the world.”

As a model for future success, Sweden launched its national lighting campaign in 2016. The potential for reduced energy consumption from lighting in Sweden is estimated to be 6-7 TWh (out of a total 14 TWh that is used for lighting each year). Through close collaboration with public and private sectors, including retailers, all government levels, and other actors, Sweden aims to reduce the nation’s electricity demand for lighting by half by 2020.

The GLC laid the groundwork to build future public-private partnerships as a mechanism to increase deployment and uptake of energy efficient appliances, and more. The GLC retired at CEM9 in 2018, but the lessons we have learned can be applied for years to come.