France Tackles Light Pollution

France’s Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy has announced laws to substantially reduce light pollution in the country.

Delphine Batho has pushed through pioneering legislation to take effect from July 1 this year.

From that date, interior lighting in business premises must be switched off one hour after the last person leaves. Building facade lighting must be switched off after 1 am, as will lighting of shop windows assuming activity at the premises has ceased. Additionally, lighting of building facades will not be allowed before sunset.

Aside from tackling light pollution, the measure is expected save energy equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 750,000 households. The initiative will also help avoid 250,000 tonnes of electricity related carbon dioxide emissions annually.

It’s also going to save shop owners a few bucks as well as they will no longer need to keep up with the Joneses (so to speak).

There may be exemptions during special occasions, such as Xmas (something else we could do without IMO).

Like noise pollution, light pollution is a severely underrated threat; not just to the environment, but to human health.

Aside from wasted resources and greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity production, light pollution can mess with the activities of plants and animals; interfering with communication, migration, reproductive cycles or predator-prey systems. Light pollution can also negatively impact on people’s sleep patterns.

Light pollution may also boost air pollution, by destroying nitrate radicals that form at night and play a role in cleaning the air.

Congratulations to France for having the courage to make such a bold move!

Elsewhere in the world, other places are implementing measures to help reclaim the darkness and to combat starry starless nights.

Learn more about light pollution.