India has launched a project to phase out the traditional incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent lights. India is the latest to join several nations trying to switch to more energy-efficient lamps in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.  

The Indian Energy Ministry says that, in the next three years, it will distribute 400 million compact fluorescent lights to households to replace existing incandescent bulbs.  

Homes in the eastern state, Andhra Pradesh, and the northern Haryana state will be the first to receive the fluorescent lights, which use up to 75 percent less energy to produce the same amount of light as traditional bulbs.  

The potential to save energy through the switch to fluorescent lights is enormous. Household lighting accounts for about one fifth of the total energy consumption in India. India's power minister says the program could help India save 10,000 megawatts of electricity, each year.  

Srinivas Krishnaswamy of Greenpeace India says even more significant is that the program will help India reduce 55 million tons of carbon emissions, every year.  

"Developing countries should look at climate change as an opportunity, a challenge to build a low-carbon pathway and steps like this are good beginning to build a low-carbon economy," said Krishnaswamy.

As in many other countries, the popularity of compact fluorescent lights has been slow to spread in India because they cost about four times as much as traditional bulbs. But they are cheaper, in the long run, because they consume less power and bulb-life is far greater than with the incandescents. The government is offering the lamps for about 30 cents - about one quarter of their cost in the market.

Environmentalists say the movement to phase out the traditional light bulb is becoming global with countries from Australia and China, to Britain either implementing or considering measures to switch to energy-efficient lamps.

This is the first program India has launched as part of an Action Plan on Climate Change, which it adopted last year. The plan put the focus on harnessing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.

India is among the world's top five emitters of greenhouse gases, but it is not required to cut emissions, at this stage, under the Kyoto Protocol. Analysts say India's emissions are rising, because of rapid economic development, and could contribute significantly to global warming in years to come.