April 30, 2007 / 11:53 AM / 11 years ago

Greenpeace calls India bulb firms "climate villains"

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Consumer electronics company Philips is the worst polluter among India’s lighting firms, environmental group Greenpeace said on Monday, blaming its incandescent bulbs for high carbon emission levels.

Greenpeace says India must ban old-style incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient light sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent.

India contributes to around 3 percent of global emissions and is already among the world’s top five polluters, along with the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

Greenpeace released a list of “climate villains” in India’s lighting industry and said it hoped naming and shaming the companies would force them into action to reduce avoidable carbon emissions.

“This ranking guide is a report card on how the lighting industry fares in its response to climate change,” said K. Srinivas, Greenpeace’s climate expert. “Honestly, the results are dismal.”

Philips Electronics India Ltd., the country’s biggest incandescent light bulb maker with an estimated 25 percent share of the 640 million bulb market, topped the list of polluters, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace activists erected a mock victory podium near the Bombay Stock Exchange, where branded incandescent bulbs from Philips and two other leading Indian lighting firms were presented with a “Climate Criminal” award.

Greenpeace suggests replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or CFLs which use much less energy.

An official from Philips, the Indian arm of Dutch firm Royal Philips Electronics NV, said the company was shifting to CFLs.

“As a company, Philips has a policy to shift to CFLs under its Green Switch Programme which is under way in Europe and the U.S.,” L. Ramakrishnan, Philips’ environmental coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region, told Reuters.

“If there is any move to shift to CFL in India we will be the first to endorse it.”

Approximately 20 percent of electricity generated in India is consumed by lighting, and experts say switching to CFLs would also help address the country’s growing power needs.

However, there are concerns about the mercury content in CFLs as environmentalists say disposing of them could present serious health risks due to the toxicity of the heavy metal.

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