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Melbourne company hopes Mexico will see the l -

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Melbourne company hopes Mexico will see the light

Simon Lauder reported this story on Friday, June 26, 2009 12:55:00

A Victorian company is hoping to earn millions of credits on the European carbon market by changing
30-million light bulbs in Mexico. The world-first scheme is run from Melbourne but can't be set up
in Australia because there isn't the regulatory support.

PETER CAVE: An Australian based company says its plan to give away 30-million energy saving light
bulbs in Mexico will do as much to reduce carbon emissions as closing Mexico City to traffic for a
year.

But it's also set to be the first household scheme to be accepted by the United Nations as a part
of the Clean Development Mechanism which enables industrialised countries to offset emissions by
investing in developing countries.

But because Australia has no emissions trading scheme, the credits will be sold on the European
market.

Simon Lauder reports from Melbourne.

SIMON LAUDER: In an office in Brunswick in Melbourne's inner north a small company is on a mission
to plug into households on the other side of the world.

The aim is to distribute 30-million efficient light bulbs throughout Mexico. Senior policy officer
at Cool nrg, Dougal McInnes, says that will create eight-million carbon credits.

DOUGAL MCINNES: And it will be eight-million tonnes of CO2 over the life time of the bulbs.

SIMON LAUDER: How significant is that?

DOUGAL MCINNES: In terms of Mexico, that's equivalent to taking cars off the road for one year.

SIMON LAUDER: The coordinator of the project in Latin America, Rodrigo Castellanos, says Mexico is
being targeted because it's one of the world's most polluted countries but also because it's a poor
country.

Mr Castellanos says efficient light bulbs are too expensive for many Mexicans and the free bulbs
will last a decade, significantly reducing household power costs.

RODRIGO CASTELLANOS: In Mexico, from the electricity bill of an average family, approximately 40
per cent is from lighting. So the annual savings of this project is approximately, it's almost one
week of income for a low income household.

SIMON LAUDER: And in terms of Mexico's carbon footprint, how big a deal is this reduction that
these light bulbs will cause?

RODRIGO CASTELLANOS: As offsetting activities or else activities that reduce that carbon footprint,
this one is at the moment, one possibly within the top three actions that the Mexican Government
can take in the very, very short term which is the other really attractive part of this action.

It is not something that has to wait for 10 years or 12 years. It is something that can be deliver
immediately.

SIMON LAUDER: The project is unique because it's set to be listed under the UN's Clean Development
Mechanism which allows developed countries to invest in emissions reduction in developing
countries.

The effectiveness of the mechanism has been questioned because it focuses largely on industrial
sized projects.

Dougal McInnes says the light bulbs scheme would be the first household based scheme to be listed.

DOUGAL MCINNES: As a first for the CDM mechanism, it's a world first.

SIMON LAUDER: Why has it taking so long for a household based scheme to be registered?

DOUGAL MCINNES: I think it hasn't happened because traditionally climate change action has been
directed at the supply side so at large factories and the industrial level.

SIMON LAUDER: It's the initiative of a Melbourne based company but it's registered in the UK. Mr
McInnes says project couldn't be registered in Australia.

PETER CAVE: And that was Simon Lauder reporting.