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About this report

The energy consumed for lighting and the resulting emissions both increased in 2021, following reduced commercial activity in 2020. However, with improving efficiency, lighting consumption is still expected to fall despite the growing amount of lighting being used in buildings. 

2021 saw progress both in the deployment of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and gains in lighting efficiency. While numerous countries began to phase out incandescent lamps more than ten years ago, many are now beginning to eliminate fluorescent lighting to make LEDs the main lighting technology. Over 50% of the global lighting market uses LED technology. 

Although some advanced markets have introduced new regulations mandating the exclusive sale of high-efficacy (LED) lamps, progress in this area must be sustained to ensure that all countries sell predominantly LED technology by 2025, and with increasing efficiency to 2030, to align with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario. 

CO2 emissions

In 2021 emissions from lighting rebounded slightly; however, they are still lower than in 2019 and on a general downward trend – especially as they are supported by improvements in the carbon intensity of electricity. To get on track with the Net Zero Scenario, a continued increase in LED uptake is required along with continued reduction in the carbon intensity of electricity. Prioritising increased uptake and use of higher-efficiency LED lighting technology and continued decarbonising of electricity production will be key to achieving this objective. 

CO2 emissions from, and emissions intensity of, lighting in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


In 2021 electricity consumption by lighting in the residential and services sectors grew by around 5%, which also drove the increase in emissions. 

Global electricity consumption by lighting in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


Despite continued improvements in the efficacy of lighting, increasing use of lighting services drove up consumption, particularly in large emerging economies. To get on track with the Net Zero Scenario, all lighting equipment needs to be LED technology by 2025, with higher efficacy levels by 2030. Although the trend towards LED technology is good, governments still need to make ongoing efforts to realise this goal. 


With increasing wealth, and the falling cost of lighting products, householders are able to afford more lighting services – especially in emerging economies. This increase in demand for lighting services is also being driven by the increasing population and number of households. Lighting services in the commercial sector are being driven by larger spaces that need to be lit.  

Number of households, population and floor area in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


These rising activity pressures are pushing up service demand for lighting, highlighting the importance of deploying LED lamps in all markets to limit overall energy consumptions lighting.  

Technology deployment

Globally, sales of LED have increased substantially in recent years, rising from a market share of around 5% in 2013 to more than half of global lighting sales in 2021, with integrated LED luminaires making up an increasing share. A number of developed markets, including the United States and Europe, are responsible for the rapid expansion of the luminaire market segment, while China has established a substantial domestic and global manufacturing base. 

Global lighting sales in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


LED efficiency, or efficacy (lumens per watt), has improved considerably in recent years, despite some signs of slowdown in the last few years. LEDs typically available in the residential market have an efficacy of over 100 lumens per watt (lm/W), depending on the model (e.g. directional, non-directional, tubular). Since 2010 the average efficacy of LEDs has improved by around 6-8 lm/W each year. The best-in-class technologies now achieve over 200 lm/W, but they are currently much more expensive. 

Changes in lighting efficacy by technology in the Net Zero Scenario, 2010-2030


LEDs have become more efficient than any other economically viable alternative. Further advances could be made through advanced LED modules (e.g. consisting of multiple-chip packages on a printed circuit board), for instance, or continuous improvements in optics. Direct current (DC) grids also hold the potential to reduce losses from alternating current (AC) to DC conversion (as LEDs are DC systems). 


Around 90 countries now use minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) to drive efficiency and prohibit low-efficacy products from the market. This means that almost 80% of the world’s lighting energy consumption is now covered by such standards. This figure is over 90% in the markets of Europe, the United States and China.  

Proportion of lighting final energy use covered by minimum energy performance standards, 2000-2021


Recent policy developments contributing to the phase-out of older, less-efficient technologies include: 

  • Africa – a proposal for a global phase-out of fluorescent lamps was submitted to the Minamata Convention on Mercury by 36 African nations, calling for the phase-out compact fluorescent lamps in 2024 and linear fluorescent lamps in 2025. 
  • The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) – comprising 16 countries – has adopted a harmonised lighting standard to shift those markets – for both lamps and luminaires – to LEDs in the coming years. 
  • The East African Community – 6 countries – has a draft harmonised standard expected to be finalised in 2022, shifting both lamp and luminaire markets to LED technology. 
  • European Union – the transition to LED lighting started in 2009 with the Ecodesign regulation, which mandated a phase-out of incandescent lamps. Two recent policy measures – updated regulations under Ecodesign and regulations under the RoHS Directive, which regulates hazardous substances in electrical equipment – will move the EU market away from mercury-containing fluorescent lighting. Compact fluorescents will be phased out in 2021 and all general-purpose fluorescent lamps are expected to be phased out in 2023.  
  • Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have already copied the EU-27 Ecodesign regulation and are expected to follow the RoHS updates. In November 2021 the United Kingdom also published a draft proposal for updated lighting efficacy standards in their Energy-related Products Policy Framework. Two tiers are proposed: 120 lm/W in 2023 and 140 lm/W in 2025, levels that will ensure UK markets are 100% LED by 2025. 

Governments are using voluntary measures to enhance the uptake of LEDs, as well as introducing higher-quality and higher-efficacy lamps. Recent policy developments include: 

  • China – the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of LED lighting products, regularly updates its MEPS, including mandatory energy efficiency standards for LED technology, which cover non-directional and self-ballasted LED lamps, LED luminaries for roads and tunnels, and LED products for indoor lighting. China has implemented a series of fiscal and taxation policies to incentivise LED technologies. LED lighting is on China’s compulsory government procurement list, and is eligible for government green bonds support. 
  • India – bulk procurement programmes have driven down the cost of LED lamps and made them affordable for very poor households. India’s lighting industry association recently published a roadmap called ELCOMA Vision 2024, with the objective to convert India’s lighting market to LEDs by 2024. 
  • United States –  is actively updating its lighting regulations, and examining opportunity for the Federal Government to lead by example through procurement of LED products. In addition, there are State legislative bodies which are phasing-out fluorescent lamps. For example, a Vermont law signed in May 2022 will end the sale of 4-foot linear fluorescents by 2024.  


International collaboration

There are some organisations and initiatives involved in facilitating international collaboration on energy-efficient electrical appliances, which also look to improve the efficiency of lighting. These include:   

  • Energy-Efficient End-use Equipment (4E), established in 2008, is the IEA’s technology collaboration programme (TCP) where 15 countries from Asia Pacific, Europe and North America have joined together to share information and transfer experience to support good policy development in the field of energy-efficient appliances and equipment. The 4E Solid State Lighting (SSL) Annex is a joint initiative of seven countries working together address challenges with SSL technologies. 
  • The Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) Initiative, launched in 2010 at the Clean Energy Ministerial, is a collaboration of more than 20 governments, the IEA and other partners to accelerate and strengthen the design and implementation of energy efficiency policies for appliances, equipment and lighting. SEAD provides knowledge and tools to improve policies, raise awareness on the importance of high-efficiency appliances and lighting, identify energy-saving technologies and offer technical expertise. 
  • Under the SEAD umbrella, and in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26), the IEA, with the UK government, set up the Product Efficiency Call to Action, which aims to double the efficiency of key appliances and lighting product sold globally.
  • CLASP, launched in 1999 as the Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program, became an international non-profit organisation in 2005 and has expanded its activity on appliances to include access to clean energy through off-grid appliance energy performance and quality. 
  • United for Efficiency (U4E), originating in 2010, is a global effort supporting developing countries and emerging economies to move their markets to energy-efficient appliances and equipment, including lighting. U4E is a public–private partnership led by UNEP, the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Copper Association, CLASP and the Natural Resources Defense Council, with the support of other international partners. 
Recommendations for policy makers

Governments should take advantage of the growing LED market (and lower LED costs) to raise minimum performance and quality requirements for lighting products. 

In addition to updating standards, further effort is needed to expand lighting policy coverage to markets that are still unregulated, as almost a quarter of global energy use for lighting in the residential sector is not yet covered by MEPS. Phasing out incandescent, halogen and compact fluorescent lamps and setting efficacy and quality (e.g. flicker and lifetime) requirements for LED lamps is critical for general lighting applications in both developed and developing countries. 

United for Efficiency (U4E), led by the UN Environment Programme, has updated its model lighting regulation guidelines for developing countries. 

Mandatory labelling of lighting is now undertaken in over 60 countries, and covers half of the world’s lighting electricity consumption. Extending the coverage of labelling to new countries and lighting products not covered will provide consumers with information to guide their purchasing, as well as provide mechanisms for governments to introduce other measures (such as targeted subsidies).  

Further harmonisation of labelling schemes is crucial to help suppliers realise economies of scale, which would raise both product affordability and the amount of capital available for investment in innovation. In addition, labelling schemes must be based on robust standards against which products can be scaled, and there should also be related policy mechanisms to ensure that the same rules apply to all market participants. 

Furthermore, design regulations for lighting applications and services should be revisited. In many countries, energy performance standards for buildings (e.g. lighting energy use per square metre) have not been updated to reflect the rapidly changing lighting market. 

These standards should recognise that LED lamps are now twice as efficient as fluorescent, and are much more amenable to lighting controls (i.e. adjustment of light output and even colour using fixture sensors). Improved metrics for quality control and more appropriate testing procedures are also critical to ensure LED energy performance and quality. 

Market-based solutions, such as using bulk procurement and energy service providers, can help reduce LED costs even further whilst increasing uptake. 

Governments can also increase market volumes through public procurement schemes that bring new and better lighting technologies to national markets, but standards for lighting products are needed to ensure that public buildings choose high-performance products. 

Governments can also provide incentives to manufacturers for the RD&D of very high-efficiency LED technologies. 

Additional resources
  • David Boughey, IEA 4E SSL Annex, Contributor 
  • Casper Kofod, IEA 4E SSL Annex, Contributor  
  • Hans-Paul Siderius, IEA 4E SSL Annex, Contributor 
  • Michael Scholand, IEA 4E SSL Annex, Contributor 
  • Georges Zissis, IEA 4E SSL Annex, Contributor 
  • Nils Borg, ECEEE, Contributor 

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  4. VLT Lighting (2016), Easing LED market growth in the near future, Shenzhen VLT Lighting Co.,