Thursday 14 February 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji - More and more Pacific Island governments are embracing appliance labelling and standards.

This was revealed at the second meeting of the Steering Committee of the Pacific Appliance Labelling and Standard (PALS) Programme, which was held in Suva on 1 February 2013. Niue has recently joined the PALS Programme and this brings the number of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) participating in the Programme to a total of 13.

The cabinets of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu have all approved the drafting of national legislation and regulations that ensure that major electricity consuming appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and lights meet a minimum level of legally enforceable performance standards and that energy rating labels are affixed to these products to inform consumers about the energy efficiency of these products before they are purchased.

‘It is a move in the right direction,’ said Makereta Sauturaga, Project Manager for the PALS Programme. Many PICTs have adopted energy roadmaps and energy plans and the labelling and standards is an important way to pursue these energy goals and targets. For instance, Samoa has just released its Energy Sector Plan 2012–2016 with its goal of ‘reducing the growth rate in the volume of imported fossil fuels by 10% by 2016’. One of the key strategies in this plan is the promotion of demand and supply side-management strategies for all consumers and for Samoa’s Electric Power Corporation.

Appliance labelling and standards is one of the most cost-effective and efficient demand side management strategies to reduce electricity demand and hence fossil fuel dependence. Energy labelling and minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) programmes work in combination. MEPS prevent the least efficient products from entering the country, and labelling allows buyers to seek out the most efficient products on the market. These programmes do not have to increase the price of products – efficient appliances do not necessarily cost more to buy, but they will certainly cost less to run.

The meeting noted that more than 50 countries around the world have adopted energy labelling and standards programmes. As more and more countries adopt these programmes (as Fiji has recently done), any PICT that is left behind, risks receiving appliances that are inefficient and more costly to operate. This would then undermine the effort to substitute renewable energy for diesel.

The meeting agreed on a cost-effective and efficient regional approach to drafting the necessary legislation and regulations. It noted that introducing a new labelling and standards programme will involve extensive consultation with stakeholders, particularly businesses and the general public. The meeting acknowledged the support and funding provided by the Australian government.