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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How the Brussels Brigade don't follow their own Directives



Image via Peter Stenzel, from the Austrian Der Standard newspaper section "Der Lochgott" as a comment to the 1.9.2012 EU ban on regular incandescent light bulbs



"Just what I've been missing.. energy saving glow worms!"

Probably allowed on EU energy usage requirement... as long as they are not too bent.



The Greenwashing Lamps site has been running a series of very readable posts lately on the EU ban and surrounding issues.

Note for example how the UK DEFRA "FAQ" is taken apart:
While the essence of the replies there will be familiar to readers of this blog, there is plenty more statistical back-up, in particular relating to the European Union.

Given the recent "final" EU ban on regular incandescents for general household lighting, and the supposed review in 2014 on the effects of the ban (the importance of which was also covered in the last Save the Bulb blog post), it is worth remembering that the EU did actually lay down some criteria that were supposed to be fulfilled...


Quoting edited excerpts from Ceolas.net, mainly ceolas.net/#li21x, written at the time...

The ban on ordinary light bulbs is only the start of a flurry of promised bans on energy using products in general, organized by the aptly Orwellian sounding "Ecodesign Committee".
Committee employed researchers Bogdan Atanasiu and Paolo Bertoldi have hunted out ever more household products to ban on the basis of energy usage (the link is to their own pdf presentation, updated following the light bulb ban, admittedly with amusing drawings of "antiquated" products in a museum...)

Yet, the Committee is breaking the EU Parliament and Ministerial Council directives with such bans, given how the energy efficiency regulations affect product characteristics, product choice, cost to consumers, industry competitiveness and so on as dealt with earlier.

21 October 2009, Framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products (pdf document), Article 15, point 5:

Implementing measures shall meet all the following criteria:
(a) there shall be no significant negative impact on the functionality of the product, from the perspective of the user;
(b) health, safety and the environment shall not be adversely affected;
(c) there shall be no significant negative impact on consumers in particular as regards the affordability and the life cycle cost of the product;
(d) there shall be no significant negative impact on industry’s competitiveness;
(e) in principle, the setting of an ecodesign requirement shall not have the consequence of imposing proprietary technology on manufacturers; and
(f) no excessive administrative burden shall be imposed on manufacturers.


Taking each one

(a) there shall be no significant negative impact on the functionality of the product, from the perspective of the user
"Product" being lighting subject to energy usage standard in this case, clearly there is "negative impact on the functionality".
Bright omnidirectional broad spectrum incandescents don't have functional equivalents (halogens also being phased out).
The regulators are not unaware of this, hence the word significant: which can mean pretty well anything you want (again, as the regulators of course know).


(b) health, safety and the environment shall not be adversely affected
As CFLs are the main pushed replacement, one can put serious doubts there.
Interestingly, they did not put "significantly" affected. Must have spilled their coffee in their committee room at the time, the Brussel Boyos.


(c) there shall be no significant negative impact on consumers in particular as regards the affordability and the life cycle cost of the product
Order restored, back to "significant" again.
Also note the use of "the affordability and the life cycle cost", not just "affordability", and not "affordability or life cycle cost". So any complaint of say "high prices of LED replacements" can be met with "but you save money in the long run" - never mind how long that run!


(d) there shall be no significant negative impact on industry’s competitiveness
This is an interesting one.
You ban the cheap competition of simple generic patent expired products that any small local manufacturer can make, leaving the complex patented products by the major manufacturers who lobbied for the ban, outsourced and licenced as they desire.
But of course the word "significant" saves the day again.


(e) in principle, the setting of an ecodesign requirement shall not have the consequence of imposing proprietary technology on manufacturers
Again the "in principle" is a nice mean-anything-at-all arrangement.
Presumably this was in response to some high profile criticism of EU regulations at that time (one apparently involving a child safety seat by a European manufacturer who happened to lobby for and push through a safety standard exactly fitting their patented product).
It is rather the other way round therefore:
"manufacturers shall not impose their proprietary technology...." ;-)
With lighting standards, as seen from the regulation history in the USA, EU and elsewhere with the UN's en.lighten initiative, and as specifically covered in the Austrian film "Bulb Fiction" recently.


(f) no excessive administrative burden shall be imposed on manufacturers
Well, there is not too much risk of that, surely ;-)
Any "burden" has been entirely of their own making, from their extensive lobbying.
Susanne Hammarström of Sweden was head of a Brussels based PR agency Diplomat-PR engaged in the lobbying.
Translated from the largest Swedish business paper, Dagens Industri:
"The ban would never have happened, without the large and extensive lobby campaign, in all member countries, as well as towards The European Commission and the media", Susanne Hammarström says.
She believes that a voluntary switchover to energy saving lamps would have been the preferred policy, without the systematic lobbying work."
The mentioned film Bulb Fiction has more on the involvement of manufacturers, including how their representatives were allowed to sit in on EU decision-making meetings, to the surprise of participants...


A further look at the document reveals other points of interest
regarding article 15...and about the replacing products (fluorescent light bulbs being the main suggested replacement, both at the time of legislation, and since)

the [fluorescent light bulb] product shall, considering the quantities placed on the
market and/or put into service, have a significant environmental impact within the Community

Sure, a "significant impact" in the sense that dumping them increases local mercury contamination!
Conversely, any energy/emission savings impact is minimal as extensively and institutionally referenced even from their own EU data as covered in the "How Bans are Wrongly Justified" section.
A fraction of 1% EU energy and emission saving - even that questionable - is difficult to construe as "significant", even by the pickiest of picky bureaucrats.

the Commission shall consider the life cycle of the [fluorescent light bulb] product and all its significant environmental aspects
Again, in that case the whole mercury mining, manufacturing, transport, recycling (or dumping)
scenario should be examined, but won't, because we are dealing with Brussels Bureaucrats who like to tell people what to do, but don't like to follow their own advice...


Greenwashing Lamps has therefore also been looking at this, with a recent update (Aug 2012) of the Directive, and how the recommended fluorescent lighting (CFLs) do not meet the
requirements.





Sermon from the Mount... the EU Governing Holy Cross Building, Brussels Berlaymont
"Arise, Light up your light bulb, and Stumble"



No comments: