A model of an 1879 street light burns in the Edison Museum in Edison, N.J., in front of a portrait of inventor Thomas A. Edison. Australia announced on Tuesday it would ban the venerable technology. ((Mike Derer/Associated Press) )

Australia has announced it will ban incandescent light bulbs in three years in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement Tuesday, saying replacingincandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs would cut 800,000 tonnes from Australia's current emissions levels by 2012.

"It'll be illegal to sell a product that doesn't meet [an energy efficiency] standard, so that will happen by 2009 [or] 2010," Turnbull told ABC radio in Australia. "So by that stage, you simply won't be able to buy incandescent light bulbs because they won't meet the energy standard."

Opposition parties welcomed the ban but said it would still leave the government six million tonnes short of its targetto reduce emissions to 597 million tonnes annually, or 108 per cent of 1990 emission levels.

The standard incandescent bulb, developed for the mass market more than 125 years ago, consists of a metal filament glowing white-hot and surrounded by an inert gas. They have become a target of advocates for energy efficiency because they lose most of their energy as heat.

Turnbull said the switch to fluorescent bulbs would lower household lighting costs by 66 per cent.

Lawmakers in two U.S. states— California and New Jersey— and in the United Kingdom have also proposed bills to ban incandescent bulbs.

Cuba and Venezuela have previously launched programs to replace their older bulbs to save energy costs.

One Change, an Ottawa-based not-for-profit organization, isamong those spearheading the move to fluorescent bulbs in Canada with a program called Project Porchlight.

The group is working with volunteers and community groups to give one fluorescent light bulb to every household in Canada. The group, with the backing of Hydro Ottawa, has replaced 250,000 bulbs in Ottawa. They've also begun similar campaigns in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay and Guelph.