From: Reuters
Published April 22, 2008 08:15 AM

China lights way for huge efficient bulb subsidy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, the world's biggest lightbulb maker, on Tuesday unveiled a massive subsidy program to promote energy-efficient bulbs and cut pollution.

Beijing plans to usher in about 50 million low-energy bulbs in the first stage of the plan, phasing traditional incandescent lighting out of the market, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website.

The lightbulb program is a showpiece of government efforts to shift to a cleaner model of development, away from pollution-belching factories that have blighted much of the country's air and water.

As the maker of about 70 percent of the world's lightbulbs, sweeping changes in China could also speed the disappearance of incandescent lighting from ceilings and bedsides around the world.

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If everyone in China made the switch in lighting, the country would save energy equivalent to about a 60 million tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, the statement said.

"This is the first time China has used financial subsidies to support such wide consumption of energy-saving products and it is an innovative use of financial subsidies," the finance ministry added.

Subsidies will be indirect, with efficient bulbs sold to consumers at a hefty discount and companies reimbursed by the government for the shortfall, the statement said.

Individual shoppers will pay half of the price agreed by manufacturers and the government, while businesses will pay just 30 percent of that price. Beijing will also give preference to the most efficient bulbs for government procurement.

The government has already named 13 companies, including the Zhejiang Sunshine Group, to produce the first batch of lightbulbs, the statement added.

The European Union already applies anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese energy-saving light bulbs, charging up to 66.1 percent on bulbs from the country's manufacturers.

(Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by David Fox)

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