The French government may introduce a law making it obligatory for lighting in shops and public buildings to be switched off during the early morning hours.
“Put that light out!” was an often heard cry of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) wardens in Second World War Britain. It, or rather the French, “Éteignez la lumière!” could soon become a familiar call of law enforcement officers in France.
The French government is on course to finalise a law which would make it compulsory for lighting in and on non-residential buildings, including shops and other commercial premises in France, to be switched off between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The proposed restriction on non-essential lighting in France has not met with universal approval. Many shops and commercial enterprises are against the move as are many French town halls fearing both an upsurge in crime and an adverse impact on tourism.
Many environmental organisations in France are in favour of the measure. One of the leading advocates of the campaign to switch off non-essential lighting is France Nature Environnement (FNE). This environmental group called for such a measure at a French national round-table meeting on energy efficiency, which was attended by the then French Cabinet Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, Nathalie Kosciusko Morizet last year. Now, the proposed measure may be introduced into French law as early as July 1, 2012.
FNE has estimated that switching off non-essential shop and commercial lighting and the lighting of public buildings all over France would save the equivalent electricity consumption of a large city, 260,000 households to be exact.
Quite apart from the obvious saving in energy and resources, FNE claim that the measure would have a number of other benefits including:
* Contributing towards a more natural order to biodiversity during the hours of darkness
* Assisting with astronomical observation in achieving darker skies in France
* Helping the general population in achieving a more restful night’s sleep
FNE consider that the burden of energy conservation in France should not fall exclusively on private households but that commercial enterprises, government departments and local authorities should also be taking visible steps to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
Maryse Arditi, head of FNE’s Energy Network said, “We welcome what we consider to be an eminently sensible measure and we hope that the legislative process will not see it so amended as to become meaningless. It is becoming increasingly difficult to persuade the population at large to make further energy savings. They will often point to empty premises and commercial buildings lit up like Christmas trees in the middle of the night.”
If the French lighting law does reach the statute book, there are likely to be exceptions for emergency lighting whilst movement sensor activated lighting within buildings may be permitted.
Digital Journal recently carried an Op-ed piece on the Worldwide Fund for Nature backed Earth Hour 2012, but, after the summer of 2012, there is every possibility that France will have five Earth Hours every single night of the year.