Standby appliances speeding climate change

Leaving the television and other appliances on standby is wasting enough energy to power some 600,000 houses in the UK and pumps almost a million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

That is more than enough energy to power every home in Edinburgh and Cardiff and almost one per cent of all emissions in Britain.

And according to a leak from a draft communiqué destined for the Gleneagles G8 summit, but later scrapped, the problem across the eight countries sees standby consume the equivalent output of 24 full-scale power stations.

Asked for figures on the scale of the problem by Lib Dem Norman Baker, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said: “The most recent estimate is that taken together consumer electronics, home computing equipment, domestic cooking equipment and office equipment in the UK produced approximately 800,000 tonnes of carbon in the UK during 2004.

“We are also aware that there is further energy consumption from white goods such as washing machines and dishwashers which are switched on awaiting use or after they have completed their cycles, consumer electronic equipment using external power supplies such that continue to consume energy when plugged in but not in use, such as domestic portable telephones, and PC equipment where the stand-by facilities are not properly enabled.

“Taken together, these sources of consumption may bring the overall figure to around 1 million tonnes of carbon.”

Mr Morley went on to say Government was encouraging industry to make appliances more efficient when on standby, much progress had been already been made by television manufacturers and things were progressing well in other areas.

But pressure group Friends of the Earth believes this is too little too late and wants to see the urgent introduction of tough new rules to prevent appliances being left on standby as part of the battle to combat global warming.

Climate campaigner Martyn Williams said: “It is ludicrous that so much energy is being wasted by appliances left on standby.

“This is making a significant and unnecessary contribution to global warming. “Climate change is the biggest threat the planet faces. It’s time to get serious about tackling the problem.

“If we can agree rules to make toys safe to stop children injuring themselves, why can’t we have rules that stop TV’s harming our climate?”

By Sam Bond

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