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Australia to mandate fluorescent lighting

SYDNEY -- Australia's government announced plans yesterday to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs across the country.

Legislation to gradually restrict the sale of the old-style bulbs could reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012 and cut household power bills by up to 66 percent, said Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Prime Minister John Howard said the plan would help all Australians play a part in cutting harmful gas emissions: "Here's something practical that everybody will participate in."

In incandescent light bulbs, electricity flows through a filament to create light. Much of the energy is wasted in heat.

Under the Australian plan, bulbs that do not comply with energy efficiency targets would be gradually banned from sale. Exemptions may apply for special needs such as medical lighting.

Fluorescent bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but use only about 20 percent of the power to produce the same light. They also last longer.