Most major retailers will no longer stock traditional lightbulbs by 2011, the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, told the Labour party conference in Bournemouth today.
But environmental campaigners quickly pointed out that the initiative is voluntary, and incandescent bulbs will still be available from smaller retailers and from online shops.
Several major retailers, including Asda, B&Q, Homebase, IKEA, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose, have agreed to stop restocking traditional 150-watt bulbs from next January.
One hundred-watt bulbs will be phased out in 2009 and 40w bulbs the following year. The announcement follows the more stringent pledges made by the governments of Brazil, Venezuela and Australia.
Low-energy lightbulbs use 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and Mr Benn said the move would save 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and help Britain meet its 2050 target of reducing carbon emissions by 60%."We will now review whether we need a stronger target," he told the conference.
But Greenpeace said the announcement fell far short of Australia's pledge to phase out high-energy lightbulbs by 2010. "There's nothing to stop smaller corner shops from stocking them," said a spokesman. "Compared to Australia's mandatory commitment, it's significantly less strong."
....Earlier, Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary, told the conference that Britain's railways would "double in size" over the next decade, promised to make the train ticketing structure simpler and said local councils would have more power over buses to avoid "wasteful competition of the kind that brought Manchester's traffic to a halt last year".
Rod Eddington's transport study had showed "we simply can't build our way out of road congestion", Ms Kelly added. "I am working round the clock to strike a deal on Crossrail - a challenge that has eluded governments for generations, but is now within our grasp."
She indicated there would be no attempt to limit people's access to cheap flights, despite suggestions by Ken Livingstone's environmental advisor yesterday that people ought be prevented from taking frivolous flights. The government would be "enabling individuals to choose how to reduce their own carbon footprint", Ms Kelly said.
She also promised more cycling training for schoolchildren.