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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 10:56 GMT
Australia pulls plug on old bulbs
Light bulb
Ban the bulb? Australia plans to switch to fluorescent light by 2010
Australia has announced plans to ban incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs.

The environment minister said the move could cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012.

"It's a little thing but it's a massive change," Malcolm Turnbull said.

The decision will make Australia the first country to ban the light bulbs, although the idea has also been proposed in the US state of California.

Fluorescent first

Mr Turnbull said that he hoped the rest of the world would follow Australia's lead in banning the traditional bulbs.

"If the whole world switches to these bulbs today, we would reduce our consumption of electricity by an amount equal to five times Australia's annual consumption of electricity," he said.

The incandescent light bulb, which wastes energy in heat dispersed while the light is switched on, is based on a design invented in the 19th century by engineers including Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan.

The bulbs will be completely phased out by 2010 and replaced with the more fuel efficient compact fluorescent models which use around 20% of the electricity to produce the same amount of light.

Green Room logo. Image: BBC

Matt Prescott of the UK-based Ban the Bulb campaign said he was delighted that Australia and California are moving forward on this issue, which he highlighted in an article for the BBC News website a year ago.

"I'm now hoping that Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Howard make firm commitments to support these proposals, explore other energy saving technologies which are already available and enable their economies to reduce their carbon emissions, save money and benefit from rapid innovation," he said.

Green campaigners and the opposition party in Australia picked up the same theme, suggesting that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would be a more powerful way for the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"The major producers of emissions in this country are not individuals, they're governments and business," Peter Garrett, the opposition's environment spokesman, said.

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