France Says Lights Out to Cut Carbon Emissions

France has decided to be “a pioneer” in preventing light pollution, announced the Environment Minister, Delphine Batho, unveiling a government decree on Wednesday. From July, all shops and offices in France will have to shut off their lights at night.

The decree, from the Environment Ministry, is intended to save energy and “reduce the print of artificial lighting on the nocturnal environment.” The new law, will also cut carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tons a year and save the equivalent of the annual consumption of 750,000 households. It is part of a series of government measures announced in December to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste.

Under the new law, the interior lights of nonresidential buildings will have to be turned off an hour after the last worker leaves, and lights on building facades and in shop windows will have to be extinguished by 1 a.m.

Ms. Batho also presented the decree as a matter of public health. Artificial lighting can damage sleep patterns, she said, and also “cause significant disruptions on ecosystems by changing communication between species, migrations, reproduction cycles or even the prey-predator relationships.”

France is justifiably proud of its night views particularly in Paris – the city of lights. Parisians and tourists flock to the Christmas illuminations on the Champs-Élysées, the 20,000 flashing bulbs on the Eiffel Tower and the bright, imaginative shop window displays.

Fortunately this will not change, the decree also states that major attractions like the Eiffel Tower will remain lighted, and local authorities can make exceptions for Christmas lighting and other celebrations.

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