Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best. By just using low-energy light bulbs and other efficient lighting systems we could prevent some 16 billion tons of carbon from being emitted over the next 25 years, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Just using widely available technology would save more than £1,300bn concludes the IEA.

Just as Americans drive bigger cars (see recent blogs) they also use more lights. The average American family uses 10 times more artificial light than a Chinese home and more than 30 times as much as an Indian home.

However, an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world have no access to electricity at all. So without action we are in trouble: “Without rapid action, the amount of energy used for lighting will be 80 per cent higher in 2030 than today,” Claude Mandil, the executive director of the IEA, said. “However, if we simply make better use of today’s efficient lighting technologies and techniques, global lighting energy demand need be no greater at that time.”

In the UK, the Government has 50,000 buildings, that emit 0.75 tons of carbon a year. Most of these buildings use inefficient lighting systems. Tony Blair has made a symbolic gesture towards efficient lighting by having a low-energy bulb installed in the lamp that hangs outside the door of 10 Downing Street.

Nice to see Tony is taking the problem of climate change seriously….