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Bright idea: A carbon efficient way to light the world

Florian Kitt's picture

Students in Africa study with an LED lantern.
Back in Washington, D.C., the weather fortunately is nearly as nice as in Spain, but the lifestyle is something I have to get used to again every time I come back from Europe. This is also the case in terms of greenhouse gas emissions! As A German, I’ll never understand the focus on air conditioning in every building and the need to cool it down until one freezes, especially in summer. Guess I’m just one of the “some like it hot”-and-sunshine group. Barcelona wonderfully confirmed my view of Europe as being a bit less concerned with temperature – the airport was hot and sticky, and no conditioned air to be spotted. Probably just a temporary failure, but upon arrival it was a stark contrast to the chilly Washington (D.C.) Dulles International Airport.

Now air conditioning systems are not the only home, office and public building application that use a lot of energy and hence cause emissions that change the climate and balance of our planet. Lighting, this super important thing for any activity when the sun is not shining, also consumes a lot of energy.

So on my last day at Carbon Expo I visited a few of the companies that promote LED lighting. I am sure you’ve already heard of LED. It is a big thing, not just to save energy or light streets and homes, but also to animate clubs and discotheques, or redecorate your home. The nice thing with LEDs is that you can program them in any way you want with a PC. This means you could, for example, install a wall of LED parts and have it display poems of your most loved author.

Lighting is, you’ll agree, one of the most basic necessities of modern life. The World Bank is tasked to help developing countries, and in particular the very poorest in the end reach a standard comparable to the one enjoyed by developed countries.

However, with a view to climate change, this now requires a low carbon path because, if the world is serious about stopping global warming, creating two more Europe’s and one more US is not exactly the way to do it. This is why we strive to employ state of the art technology such as LEDs.

LED lanterns can last for up to three days before having to be recharged and can also be fueled with solar power. They are an excellent way to literally bring light to very poor and de-connected regions, while at the same time ensuring that this remains energy and carbon efficient.

What we need, and what Carbon Expo was about, is finding bankable projects that are financed by proceeds of a fully fledged and competitive carbon market, where buyers and sellers of carbon support the development and implementation of technology that allows us to read a book after sunset, anywhere in the world.

More on carbon, technology, and UNFCCC COPS (stay with us and we’ll tell you what this is) soon.