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Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2021

Volume 814: debated on Tuesday 14 September 2021

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information (Lighting Products) Regulations 2021

Relevant document: 9th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

My Lords, the draft lighting products regulations were laid before the House on 1 July 2021 and the draft amending regulations were laid before the House on 5 July 2021. Before I begin, I will provide a brief overview of ecodesign and energy labelling and what these policies try to achieve.

Ecodesign policies regulate products that consume energy when in use, such as lighting products, by setting minimum energy performance standards to increase their energy efficiency. More recently, ecodesign policies have included resource-efficiency measures, which seek to make products more repairable and recyclable, thereby reducing the use of material resources. Ecodesign policies make the products that we use in our homes and businesses more environmentally friendly and support long-term product innovation. Energy labelling policies make clear and consistent information on a product’s energy use readily available to consumers at the point of purchase, to help them make more informed purchasing decisions. In effect, energy labelling encourages the uptake of more energy efficient products, thereby reducing energy usage and saving consumers and businesses money on their energy bills.

Taken together, these policies make an important contribution to reducing energy use, improving environmental outcomes and cutting energy bills. It is expected that the full suite of ecodesign and energy labelling policies in force in Great Britain will save consumers about £75 on their energy bills and save 8 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021.

The lighting products regulations will raise the minimum energy efficiency of lighting products on the market in Great Britain. In effect, this will phase out the least energy-efficient lighting products—in other words, the costliest and most environmentally damaging products to run. The lighting products regulations will replace the existing energy label with a rescaled label, moving from an A++ to E scale to a simpler A to G scale, making it easier for consumers to identify the most energy efficient lighting products. New innovations in lighting technology have led to lighting products becoming much more energy efficient than they were a few years ago, making it necessary to rescale the energy label to show the difference in efficiency more clearly between today’s products. By setting ambitious boundaries for the A to G classes on the energy label, this policy will spur innovation in the design of lighting products as manufacturers compete to achieve the highest energy efficiency ratings.

In addition to rescaling the energy label for lighting products, the union flag must now be displayed on the label for products on the GB market, rather than the EU flag. The lighting products regulations reflect the technical requirements of two EU regulations, which the UK supported when it was a member state and which began to apply in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol, and the EU on 1 September.

By introducing these more ambitious and environmentally friendly ecodesign and energy labelling requirements, we will ensure that we will maintain high product standards in Great Britain and push the market to achieve even greater carbon savings. The measures introduced by the lighting products regulations will contribute savings of approximately 1.8 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in the UK by 2030, which increases to 2.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. On top of this, the resultant reduction in energy use will cut much money from household and business energy bills.

Lastly, introducing these requirements in Great Britain will ensure a mostly common set of product standards with Northern Ireland, thereby avoiding any technical barriers to trade across the Irish Sea and between Great Britain and the EU. A public consultation was conducted between November 2020 and January 2021. Feedback on the consultation proposals showed strong support for implementing these new requirements in Great Britain.

Moving on to the second instrument, the amending regulations will make amendments to retained EU ecodesign and energy labelling law in force in Great Britain. The EU has recently made these same amendments to its equivalent legislation, which must be complied with in Northern Ireland under the terms of the protocol. Therefore, this SI ensures that we avoid technical discrepancies with the equivalent legislation in force in the EU and Northern Ireland.

The amendments this instrument makes are to servers and data storage products with respect to ecodesign; and electronic displays, household refrigeration, dishwashers, washing machines and washer-dryers with respect to energy labelling. The amendments correct technical errors and improve accuracy with the aim of facilitating the understanding of and compliance with the requirements by product manufacturers.

Further, as for the lighting regulations, implementing these amendments in Great Britain avoids technical barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Great Britain and the EU as there will be mostly a common set of standards. A consultation was again conducted between March and April 2021 with those who will be impacted by the legislation. Respondents were supportive of implementing these new requirements in Great Britain.

In conclusion, introducing the lighting products regulations and the amending regulations is aligned with the Government’s ambitions to achieve our carbon budgets and our net-zero target. It will take us ever closer to reducing our energy use and environmental impact. Furthermore, both SIs will avoid technical barriers to trade and ensure an effective regulatory environment for business, while also providing greener choices for consumers and encouraging product innovation. I commend the regulations to the House.

I thank the Minister for his explanation of these regulations. This is my first time in a statutory instrument debate actually in the Moses Room because I always used Zoom over the last 15 months; notwithstanding that, I am very pleased to see everybody in the flesh.

I have certain questions. I am not opposed to these regulations or what they contain because I firmly believe in striving for climate change mitigation and for energy efficiency, which would help mitigate costs for the consumer. However, in that regard I have some questions and I hope the Minister might be able to provide me with answers. Does the new labelling scale indicate levels of greater safety? I do not think there is an indication of that. Who will monitor the safety of all these lighting appliances? Will there be reports on carbon reduction in relation to these lighting products to COP 26 in Glasgow in a couple of months’ time? Will Parliament receive an ongoing annual report about achieving zero targets in relation to lighting products?

I would be most grateful if the Minister could clarify whether there is any difference between what currently exists and what will exist under these new labelling arrangements. I would also like to ask the Minister what training will be provided to suppliers in terms of the new energy labels. I always fear that, when new labelling comes into play, a cost to the suppliers and those involved in the construction will be attached. I hope that the reduction in energy bills will not result in an increase, or no reduction, because of the costs that will be involved in the manufacture of these new labels. Could the Minister provide me with some detail on that? Will funding support be provided to small suppliers, because they will not have the type of financial outlay that bigger suppliers will?

Apart from flag designations, what other technical differences could exist? Could the Minister advise on that? Will electrical products conform to energy efficiency and climate change mitigation requirements? How will all this assist business development?

I notice that two of the regulations refer to the Northern Ireland protocol. I am glad to note that these are not areas where the contention will apply and that, generally, for these goods and services, there have been no impediments and there will not, we hope, be any. Could the Minister indicate whether he has received specific representations or overtures in relation to the application of the protocol? I note that these regulations apply to England, Scotland and Wales; I therefore assume that the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland will have responsibility for lighting appliances from the Northern Ireland protocol perspective.

I look forward to the Minister’s answers on this welcome piece of legislation.

I thank the Minister for his introduction to the two instruments before the Committee today. I am very happy to approve them; I agree that both are uncontroversial as well as sensible and obvious. Energy efficiency continues to be vital in reducing carbon and cost, while we all agree that high cross-border standards should continue to advance in tandem in order to lower barriers to trade. All this helps drive changes in consumer choice towards better products, innovation and improvements.

With the United Kingdom no longer a member state of the EU, it continues to make best sense to maintain improvements in step together across Britain, the United Kingdom and the EU. Can the Minister confirm that that will remain the Government’s intention for the future?

These regulations reflect similar approaches and outcomes. The Committee debated a related instrument at the beginning of June, covering labelling, online and internet selling and welding equipment. Today’s two instruments relate to servers, data-storage products, electronic displays and household products such as washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators on the one hand and light sources and separate control gears on the other. Both Explanatory Memorandums were exemplary and reflected close dialogue with industry, businesses and associations, which underpins successful regulation and will bring confidence to the public in their engagement.

The energy labelling consultation across four weeks in March and April could be regarded as straightforward in that only three responses were forthcoming, so no guidance is envisaged. However, can the Minister be confident that business will be aware of these changes and how does the department envisage further dissemination of information for the measures to be fully operable from 1 October this year? Can the Minister provide any further details regarding the provisions and improved accuracy of the regulations highlighted under paragraph 10.3 of the memorandum, following input from these three consultees?

The instrument on lighting makes some interesting changes, where the memorandum provides an impact assessment in detail for consideration. Under paragraph 7.6, the memorandum explains that labelling requirements for lighting products should secure

“an expected 10.6 TwH of electricity and 1.3 Mega-tonnes of CO2 by 2050.”

I was not sure whether the Minister mentioned slight variances to these figures that might give a different complexion to those savings. However, I congratulate him on the more ambitious requirements than those that are presently set far below what could be reasonably achievable. Could the Minister put further perspectives on this? How many terawatt hours of electricity and megatonnes of CO2 are currently generated by the lighting industry and what percentage saving does the introduction of these regulations represent? It is imperative that the Government provide coherent and emphatic encouragement for progress towards net zero.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, who asked interesting questions concerning COP 26 and engagement of the public with purchases towards lowering the footprint of the lighting industry in relation to net zero. I am also encouraged by the rescaling of energy lighting labels to a simpler A to G scale. This should provide greater clarity to the market towards the most efficient projects with more intelligent and accurate information. It must be far from clear that the consumer at present appreciates the distinctions at the top end of the scale between A++ ratings and A+.

Finally, I note the concerns expressed under paragraph 10.3 on the

“possible health implications of certain lighting products for photo-sensitive people”,

and that these regulations place

“requirements on lighting products to limit any potential adverse health effects”.

Can the Minister say what considerations the Government are giving towards limiting light pollution in general? I noted that during the pandemic many areas, especially along motorways, limited the usage of lighting during the night hours. Have the Government undertaken any balance of considerations between light pollution and energy saving with safety concerns about dark areas on roads and in our cities?

In finishing, I remain in firm approval of these regulations.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, for their contributions to this debate.

As I have said before, the Government are committed to delivering on their carbon budgets and net-zero target. The lighting products regulations will make a modest contribution to achieving those targets by setting higher product standards. I will reiterate the figures for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester: 1.8 megatonnes of carbon savings will be made in the UK by 2030, which will increase to 2.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050. The amending regulations will help to achieve this by safeguarding the carbon savings that will be secured from our retained EU law.

On the questions posed to me by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, on product safety, which of course is not part of these regulations, the Office for Product Safety and Standards enforces ecodesign and energy labelling requirements placed on manufacturers and importers across the UK. Trading Standards and the Department for the Economy enforce energy labelling requirements placed on retailers in Great Britain and Northern Ireland respectively. The Advertising Standards Authority is responsible for ensuring that marketers’ advertising of energy labelling across various forms of media is in accordance with UK advertising codes. All market surveillance authorities work hard to uphold high product standards on the UK market and to ensure that businesses are supported to understand their obligations.

I can also tell the noble Baroness that there are currently no plans to report on the specific carbon-saving reductions from these regulations, but of course the Government will update Parliament on their carbon-saving targets on a more aggregate level. She also asked about differences between old and new requirements. The main difference introduced by these new energy-labelling requirements is the reinterpretation or reintroduction of the simple A to G scale. Many products under the previous regulations achieved A+ or A++ ratings, so the new scale has been reorientated to make them more understandable for consumers and enable consumers to better discern the most energy-efficient products. This would also encourage innovation by manufacturers to achieve the highest rating. We know that industry is already innovating to meet the highest levels of energy efficiency from lighting products, and we are working with it to understand how these technologies can go further to save even more energy, reduce carbon and of course, at the same time, reduce consumer bills.

On the noble Baroness’s questions about support to businesses, we expect the new requirements to have very limited impact on small businesses. Nevertheless, we have ensured that we work closely with suppliers of the affected products to help them understand the new requirements, and we have liaised closely with trade associations, which play a vital role in providing guidance to small and medium-sized businesses. Despite the new regulations creating some small new costs to manufacturers in the short term, they will in the longer term save businesses and consumers money on their energy bills. We estimate a net saving of something like £18 million a year for businesses up to 2050, due to their reduced energy bills. It is also important to emphasise that no products are being taken off the market; if they are currently on the market, you can sell out supplies of existing products before you need to move on to the newer ones, so nothing will be scrapped and nothing wasted.

With regard to working together with the noble Baroness’s home Province of Northern Ireland in relation to implementation of energy labelling, we work closely with officials in the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that they are aware of the new requirements, including in relation to enforcement of these regulations on retailers, which, as I said, is the responsibility of the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. The OPSS enforces requirements on suppliers across the UK and has an excellent relationship with stakeholders in Northern Ireland.

I move on to the questions from the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, who asked about awareness of the new regulations. The noble Lord can be assured that we have engaged extensively with the lighting industry to communicate the changes to the regulations, and we have provided guidance and support to manufacturers that have taken the trouble to contact us directly. The OPSS has also communicated widely to remind businesses of the new regulations coming into force.

On light pollution, ecodesign and energy labelling have played an important role in contributing to reducing UK emissions, and we believe that additional savings through better policy could make an important contribution to the Government’s carbon budget targets and to net zero. We are always exploring whether further energy savings could be made by using light products in smarter ways, which would help to contribute to an aim that we all share—that of reducing excess light pollution. The noble Lord can be assured that we will work closely with our colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to see what more can be done with using smart lighting products and so on to reduce light pollution.

To close, I underline once more that the main purpose of these regulations is to raise the minimum energy efficiency of a range of lighting products sold in Great Britain and to reform energy labels for lighting products by rescaling the energy classes and introducing an energy scale. Both SIs will help to avoid technical barriers to trade, while also bringing significant benefits to consumers in the form of reduced energy bills and to the environment in terms of lower emissions. With that, I commend these regulations to the House.

May I just delay the Committee for one short moment and thank the Minister for clarifying those figures on the savings from the lighting regulations? However, could he perhaps write to me with wider details of what the power generated is in a more total setting of the lighting industry, and what percentage these savings should represent against that total?

Motion agreed.