Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the voluntary initiative would see energy efficient bulbs replace the incandescent bulbs over the next four years, with the aim of saving 5 million tonnes of CO2 each year by 2012.

Incandescent bulbs waste 95% of the energy they use as heat and, whilst the saving made from switching a single bulb may be negligible, the impact of a country swapping to energy efficient bulbs could be significant.

“Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint,” said Mr Benn.

“Choosing energy saving light bulbs can help tackle climate change, and also cut household bills, with each bulb saving up to £60 over its lifetime.

“I am delighted that major companies have said they are prepared to help deliver this ambitious timetable and offer products which will help their own customers play their part in combating climate change.

“But 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.”

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”

Greenpeace gave a lukewarm response to the announcement, saying that most of the retailers involved had already pledged to beat the 2012 deadline following campaigning by the environmental pressure group.

Responding to the news John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK 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,” said John Sauven, executive director of the NGO.

“However, almost all of the retailers involved have already committed to removing these bulbs after a campaign by Greenpeace.

“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.”

Sam Bond

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