Low energy bulbs light the way to green future

Traditional light bulbs are to be phased-out as part of efforts to control climate change.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn announced today major retailers and energy suppliers have launched a voluntary initiative to phase out high energy light bulbs and replace them with low-energy alternatives.

The government wants to see all traditional lightbulbs phased out by 2011, beginning with a voluntary ban on traditional 150 watt light bulbs from January next year.

Mr Benn told the Labour party conference this would save five million tonnes of carbon a year an help the UK achieving its 2050 target for CO2 cuts.

Addressing delegates in Bournemouth, Mr Benn insisted the government was serious about climate change.

He said the country was now facing a stark choice; become a world leader in transferring to a low carbon economy, or be left behind.

Mr Benn said: “As individuals, we can either learn to live more sustainably today or, in a few years’ time, face having to tell our grandchildren why, as a generation, we did not act while we still had time.”

The environment secretary showed little patience with climate change sceptics, pointing to recent examples of extreme weather as proof climate change is already happening.

He warned governments must act now before the effects of climate change become visible in environmental refugees or conflicts brought on by water shortages.

Mr Benn said he would work in Bali in December to agree a new international deal to replace Kyoto and facilitate a low carbon world.

He said: “Every country must play its part – from China to the USA. The biggest economy in the world must take on binding commitments to reduce emissions. Voluntary action is not enough.

“As Al Gore has taught us, we have to speak the truth even if it is inconvenient for some.”

Mr Benn confirmed the government will now review plans for a 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions after environmental campaigners warned it was not sufficiently rigorous.

But the environment secretary argued the government was already making progress, pointing to targets on composting waste, renewable energy and zero carbon housing.

An adaptation plan, to be published next year, will also examine existing risks and how the country can minimise them, he said.

Mr Benn said this summer’s events, including the flooding but also the foot and mouth outbreaks, should “remind us just how delicate our relationship with this small and fragile planet is.”

Following a consultation launched earlier this summer, Mr Benn confirmed the government will push forward legislation to guarantee access to the English coastline.

He said today: “Access for all is a Labour value, and it should apply as much to our coast as it does to education or our health service.”