The European Parliament on April 13, 2005 endorsed rules to make household appliances more energy efficient as part of its fight against global warming. Under a voluntary agreement with the industry, computers, stereo systems, washing machines, lights, air-conditioning, and boilers will all have to be designed with a focus on conserving energy.
The European Executive Commission, author of the draft, says the new rules could save 180 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, helping Europe meet ambitious climate change targets.
German conservative MEP Peter Liese said consumers would also save on electricity bills. A household spends 100 euros (approx. U.S. $128) a year on electricity for appliances that are turned off but not plugged out. Consumers pay an extra 400 euros (approx. $512) a year in electricity bills for all energy inefficient devices at home.
"The directive will mean great progress for the protection of the environment in Europe and it will take the strain off the consumer because electricity and water bills will be reduced," Mr. Liese said.
The legislation will apply across the 25-nation EU from 2007. The commission will monitor industry's progress towards agreeing common standards. It can threaten to impose energy efficient criteria if firms fail to work together.
"The commission will prepare studies on the improvements we need to make," said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "By the second half of 2007, we should be able to adopt the first eco-design requirements for products."
But environmental organization WWF said voluntary agreements with industry were ineffective to promote cleaner technology.
"This is the biggest loophole of the new law," said Dr. Stephan Singer, WWF head of European Climate and Energy Policy Unit. "Voluntary agreements and the rejection of an independent verification on their implementation is nothing more than an incentive for producers to avoid making the required innovations and is bad for climate protection," he added. (Reuters)
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