If energy needs to be saved, there are good ways to do it.
                                                               Government product regulation is not one of them

Friday, December 23, 2011

Comparing North America and EU bans


As seen from the recent overview of USA regulations, they are comparable to Canada, but not at all as strict as the EU regulations (regulations for different countries with official links http://ceolas.net/#li01inx).

The EU, then, has not only had an earlier ban, but included most varieties of incandescents, also banning all frosted types (Halogen or not) with immediate effect, on the justification that consumers "can buy the CFLs" if they want opaque bulbs.

There are 2 main reasons for the differences between North America and the EU.

the attitude to climate change a.k.a. global warming:
It should be remembered that reducing CO2 emissions was the original worldwide impetus to ban the bulbs, via Greenpeace and other vociferous campaigns around the turn of the century.
The emphasis on saving energy for society or money for consumers later gained ground to make the proposal more concretely attractive, also in view of a growing scepsis or fatigue regarding the climate change message.
That said, the EU Commission and Parliament - and European politicians in general - have remained strong backers of energy efficiency solutions to reduce CO2 emissions.

the comparably greater cooperation with manufacturers.
Even before the ban, imported CFLs were being tariff-reduced in special deals, and the EU Commission Ecodesign Committee (behind the ban proposals) had an extensive involvement with manufacturers, as covered on the website, from http://ceolas.net/#li12ax onwards, including http://ceolas.net/#euban.

In this regard, the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the EU compared to the USA should be remembered, the EU's own auditors have for the past decade refused to sign off on the accounts, and while for example the USA has open Congress hearings on this and other issues, the EU won't even say who is on the legislation proposing EcoDesign Committee, let alone inform about their meeting activities (I have consistently been refused information about the committee composition etc, one reason seemingly being so that the Committee is not "unduly influenced"... which is ironic of course, since they do liaise closely with manufacturers, as has emerged more and more)

A reason for taking this up here, is also because of interesting documentation that I have come across in the past couple of days, relating to EU manufacturer lobbying, more of which can be seen at http://ceolas.net/#postEUban

For example,

The Unholy Alliance between Philips and the Greens

Guest post by Dutch researchers Joost van Kasteren and Professor Henk Tennekes, on American Climate Scientist Roger Pielke's blog

Some extracts. my emphases:

An unholy alliance (discovered by Elsevier journalist Syp Wynia – see footnote) between a large multinational company and a multinational environmental organization succeeded in their lobby to phase out, and ultimately by 2012 forbid, the sale of incandescent bulbs, because of their low watt-to-lumen efficiency – not only in the Netherlands but in the whole of the European Union.

The multinational company wanted to develop a new market for products with a high profit margin, and the environmental multinational wanted to impress the citizens of Europe with the imminent catastrophe caused by anthropogenic climate change. That would also be of benefit to its battered public image.

Philips, the company involved, started in 1891 with the mass production of Edison lamps, at its home base, Eindhoven, Netherlands. There existed no international court of justice at the time, so they could infringe on US patent law with impunity. In the past 120 years it has expanded continuously, to become the multinational electronics giant it is today. Because nostalgia seldom agrees with the aims of private enterprise, Philips started lobbying to phase out the very product on which its original success is based. They started this campaign around the turn of the century, ten years ago.

Their line of thought is clear: banning incandescent bulbs creates an interesting market for new kinds of home lighting, such as “energy savers” (CFL’s, compact fluorescent lamps) and LED’s (light emitting diodes). The mark-up on these new products is substantially higher than that on old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. The rapid expansion of the lighting industry in China makes the profit margin on ordinary bulbs from factories in Europe smaller yet.

The spectre of catastrophic climate change offered a new opportunity for the strategists and marketing specialists at Philips headquarters.
They changed their marketing concept and jumped on the Global Warming band wagon. From that moment on, energy-saving bulbs could be put on the market as icons of responsibility toward climate change. This would give Philips a head start in the CFL end LED business. The competition would be left far behind by aggressive use of European patent law. That strategy fitted like a glove with that of the environmental movement. For them, ordinary light bulbs had become the ultimate symbol of energy waste and excessive CO2 emissions.

Seeing the opportunity, Greenpeace immediately made a forward pass with the ball thrown by Philips’ pitchers. The incandescent bulb would serve as an ideal vehicle for ramming Global Warming down people’s throats.
No abstract discussions about CO2-emissions any more: a ban on bulbs would suffice.
Not unlike the misguided banning of DDT in the name of environmentalism, which leads to the loss of countless lives due to malaria.

In 2006, Dutch legislators caved in under the combined lobbying pressure by Philips and Greenpeace.
A parliamentary majority in The Hague embraced the idea of banning incandescent bulbs and ordered the Dutch Environment Minister, Jacqueline Cramer, to lobby for an extension of the ban to all states in the European Union. That task proved simple enough. Top politicians in Europe, Germany’s Angela Merkel up front, deeply impressed by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, were only too eager to project an image of strength and will power concerning imagined threats to the planet. ”Save the Earth, ban the bulb” was an effective campaign strategy.

To make a long story short, it took less than one year to issue a binding European Union Edict ordering the phasing out of incandescent bulbs, starting with a ban on bulbs of 100 watts and more effective March 1, 2009, and leading to a complete ban of all incandescent lighting on September 1, 2012.

The spin doctors at Philips headquarters have got it made.
And if this scam backfires on them in consumer protests all over Europe, they can cover their backsides by claiming that politicians and the green movement are responsible, not they.
Backfire it will. There exist no decent alternatives to incandescent light. None.

Footnote, again quoting the blog post:

Elsevier, the Dutch weekly, is the local equivalent of TIME magazine. On August 8, 2009 it ran a revealing cover story by Syp Wynia, entitled “How war was declared against the incandescent bulb.” Other sources of information include an article by James Kanter in the New York Times of August 31, 2009 and many others, easily found by googling “incandescent bulbs” and “banned.”

Henk Tennekes is an aeronautical engineer. From 1965 to 1977 he was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State. He is co-author of A First Course in Turbulence (MIT Press, 1972 – still in print) and author of The Simple Science of Flight, recently (2009) released in a revised and expanded edition.
Joost van Kasteren is a senior writer on technology and science in Holland. He covers energy, housing, water management, agriculture, food technology, innovation, science policy, and related issues.


Anonymous said...

Australia somewhere between
Saw you linked to them too on the Ceolas site

They have many coal plants, so is-was also environmentally driven.
Labour Government brought in the light bulb ban and now depends on a solitary Green member so unlikely to change anyway.

Opposition Conservatives under new leader against unpopular Carbon Tax, also probably light bulb rules
(former Conservative leader Malcolm Turnbull supported the ban)

Paul, Sydney

Lighthouse said...

Thanks for that
I know the incoming conservative government in New Zealand abandoned New Zealand's own labour instigated ban plan a while back saying something like
"it is not a government concern what light bulbs people used in their homes"
... maybe their Australian colleagues have taken note :-)