All high-energy light bulbs will be removed from sale in Britain within four years under a pioneering deal between the Government and major retailers.
Bulbs rated at 150 watts will be taken off the shelves as early as January under the voluntary agreement launched yesterday by a string of high street names.
Millions of 100-watt bulbs will be removed a year later, with all incandescent lights phased out by 2011, under the timetable agreed by the stores.
Green campaigners welcomed the move, which is aimed at replacing millions of lights with low-energy fluorescent bulbs, but said the Government needed to act sooner to remove high-energy bulbs.
Announcing the initiative at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State for the Environment, said the move would save five million tonnes of CO2 per year from 2011.
He told delegates: "The major retailers and energy suppliers are now leading a voluntary initiative, with the strong support of the lighting industry and the Government, to help phase out traditional high-energy light bulbs. We need to turn them off – for good."
Mr Benn also suggested that he wanted to see inefficient appliances phased out. He said: "There are many more energy hungry gadgets on sale in shops that waste too much energy. That's why I want to see today's initiative widened. I want to see more retailers, manufacturers and service providers taking action to phase out the least efficient products from their ranges, for example, certain set top boxes and TVs, and so help offer greener choices to their customers."
He told delegates that Britain could face a wave of immigration from people fleeing the effects of climate change.
He said: "What are we going to do when people start arriving at our shores fleeing not from political persecution but from environmental catastrophe."
Mr Benn added: "Britain can either lead the world in a low-carbon transformation of our economy, in protecting our countryside and wildlife and in renewing our cities with jobs in new environmental industries or we can be left behind."
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, called on the Government to go further. He said: "This initiative, which will reduce the UK's CO2 emissions and finally begin to consign these hugely energy wasteful bulbs to the history books, is long overdue.
"However, almost all of the retailers involved have already committed to removing these bulbs ahead of 2011 after a campaign by Greenpeace," Mr Sauven said.
"We think the Government needs to go further and introduce tough mandatory efficiency standards rather than relying on weak voluntary initiatives. For every year of delay in getting rid of these bulbs, five million tonnes of C02 are emitted into the atmosphere, unnecessarily."
Kevin Hawkins, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Retailers are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and play an active role in helping consumers reduce their own environmental impact.
"This is just the latest in a number of initiatives in which retailers are helping to shape consumer habits through the promotion of energy saving products. We look forward to working closely with Government and manufacturers in the lead up to the 2011 deadline to ensure the supply of energy saving light bulbs matches demand, and that they become a viable alternative to conventional light bulbs for consumers of all incomes."
Later, Yvette Cooper, the Housing minister, announced plans to invite the world's leading architects to compete to design a string of new eco-towns. She said she wanted the new towns to be the "antithesis of the monolithic, identikit aesthetic which is too often associated with new housing".Reuse content