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updated 11/4/2011 4:20:29 PM ET 2011-11-04T20:20:29

China announced Friday it will phase out incandescent light bulbs within five years in an attempt to make the world's most polluting nation more energy efficient.

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China will ban imports and sales of 100-watt and higher incandescent bulbs from Oct. 1, 2012, the country's main planning agency said.

It will extend the ban to 60-watt and higher bulbs on Oct. 1, 2014, and to 15-watt and higher bulbs on Oct. 1, 2016. The time frame for the last step may be adjusted according to an evaluation in September 2016, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

State-run Xinhua News Agency quoted Xie Ji, deputy director of the commission's environmental protection department, as saying China is the world's largest producer of both energy-saving and incandescent bulbs.

Last year, China produced 3.85 billion incandescent light bulbs, and 1.07 billion were sold domestically, the agency said. Lighting is estimated to account for about 12 percent of China's total electricity use, it said. Xie said the potential for energy savings and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is huge.

The planning agency said China will save 48 billion kilowatt hours of power per year and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 48 million tons annually once the bulbs are phased out.

Several countries plan to phase out traditional light bulbs. The United States is set to put standards in effect that require a higher level of efficiency than classic incandescent light bulbs can produce, essentially nudging them off store shelves over the next few years. The 27-nation European Union agreed in 2008 to phase out the bulbs by 2012. The most common replacements are fluorescent and LED lights.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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