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UK gov pleads with retailers for climate change help

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The government is calling on consumer electronics retailers to focus on energy efficiency as it struggles to meet its own climate change targets.

A review released at the end of March found it would miss its ambition of a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 by 2010.

Eleven of the biggest electronics sellers are attending a summit at 11 Downing Street today to be told they should do more to help consumers reduce the impact their gadget use has on CO2 emissions.

Environment Minister Ian Pearson said: "I and my Treasury colleagues will be meeting with the major retailers to invite them to commit to set ambitious energy efficiency standards for the consumer electronic products that they sell."

Representatives from Argos, Amazon, Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Kingfisher, Morphy Richards Comet, Dixons, John Lewis and Morrisons will hear the pitch, and "develop detailed proposals" with DEFRA.

It's thought a scheme would be voluntary in the first instance, but with ministers looking to retailers for a 15 to 25 per cent cut in emissions from their products by 2010, punitive measures can't be ruled out.

Retailers will respond to the government's call in October, and it's hoped a plan will be implemented at the start of 2007.

According to government data, consumer electronics gear consumed around around 18 terawatt-hours last year; the output of five standard power stations. The figure is expected to soar to 31 terawatt-hours by 2010.

The popularity of gigantic televisions and set-top boxes will be a key driver of the increasingly power-hungry home, officials say. Pearson said: "Some [set-top boxes], like those supplied by companies...who have signed up to the European Code of Conduct, now provide consumers with boxes that consume around half the energy they did five years ago.

"But there are simple digital adaptors you can buy off the shelf in the high street that actually use on average around five times as much energy in stand-by mode (6W) compared to the most efficient box that was available four years ago (around 1W)." ®

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