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

Friday, June 6, 2014

"EU Twisting Facts to fit Political Agenda"

It is only human to decide what is right or wrong - and look for facts to prove you are right.
Certainly, a case could be made that it is done here, though I would argue that any such emphasis is to balance official information in support of bans.
For example, I think fluorescent bulbs are also useful and should not be banned.
Nevertheless, the original ban on incandescents was largely defended on supposed energy saving of fluorescent bulbs, which have many disadvantages as replacements, hence the criticism, and the same can be said of LED bulbs, hence the critical reviews on this site in being pushed as replacements.

The point therefore is that political institutions should have an open perspective from the start.
Lighting choice issues apart, ruling authorities in the USA, EU and elsewhere see usage energy saving as some Holy Grail, getting even that wrong for several reasons.
However, in the context here, it is also that they do not even consider factors not fitting in with their agenda, and when such factors (heat issue, full life cycle, power plant off-peak operation, environmental and health effects of replacement bulbs) are hard to measure, it provides an extra imperative to have follow up studies to see if supposed savings and usage safety were actually there.

The issue becomes particularly poignant when the institution has a monopoly of launching legislative proposals for 500 million citizens - like the European Commission in the EU - and decisions, once taken, are hard to change.

Insider or whistleblower criticism of political process gives extra credibility, as here.

Recent article May 27 2014 by Frederic Simon on EurActiv site, extracts, my emphases:

EU Twisting Facts to fit Political Agenda

A big challenge for the next European Commission will be to disconnect its evidence gathering processes from the “political imperative” that’s driving policy proposals, according to Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific advisor.

Speaking before the EU elections last week, Glover reflected upon her role, which was introduced by the outgoing President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

Glover was appointed in December 2011 to provide the President of the EU Executive with first-class independent scientific advice. A trained biologist who holds a chair in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Aberdeen, she previously served a as chief scientific advisor for Scotland (2006-2011).

More than two years into her job, she seems to have learned a great deal about the internal working of the EU’s flagship institution.

And her assessment of what goes on inside the Commission’s walls is not rosy.

“When I spoke to president Barroso about taking up this role, I said to him that for me it would only be attractive if I was regarded as an independent chief scientific advisor,” Glover told a briefing organised on 21 May by Eurochambres, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“What I said to him was that, for me to have any value or credibility, I need to focus on evidence and not on political considerations,” she recalled...

A big challenge for the next European Commission will be to disconnect its evidence gathering processes from the “political imperative” that’s driving policy proposals, according to Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific advisor.

Illustrating her point, she used a fictitious example:
“Let’s imagine a Commissioner over the weekend thinks, ‘Let’s ban the use of credit cards in the EU because credit cards lead to personal debt’.
So that commissioner will come in on Monday morning and say to his or her Director General, ‘Find me the evidence that demonstrates that this is the case.’” The Commissioner’s staff might resist the idea but in the end, she says, “they will do exactly what they’re asked” and “find the evidence” to show that credit card use leads to personal debt, even though this may not be the case in reality.
“So you can see where this is going,” Glover said: “You’re building up an evidence base which is not really the best.”

To back its policy proposals, the Commission often outsources the evidence-gathering part of the job to external consulting firms, which provide ‘impact assessment studies’ or ‘research’ that are often branded as ‘independent’.
However, Glover says such consultancies have little incentive to produce evidence that contradicts the Commission’s political agenda.
“If they want repeat business, [they] are not going to go out and find the evidence to show that this is a crazy idea,”
she says.

To be fair, the Commission is not alone in trying to distort facts, Glover said. The same goes for the other two EU institutions – the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, which represents the 28 EU member states.

“What happens at the moment – whether it’s in Commission, Parliament or Council – is that time and time again, if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence. So everybody blames the evidence and nobody is honest about the fact that in many cases, understanding the evidence is the best possible platform to make the logical extension into policy. But they don’t like it so they say ‘We need more evidence’...

Crucially, Glover says transparency in the evidence-gathering process would be key, so that every stakeholder - whether a citizen, a business, a politician, a scientist – can look at the reasoning that’s behind policy proposals. "And that is all doable, it is not a fantasy. It would be quite easy to achieve," she says.


This is not surprising, given the VITO and other test labs behind the light bulb ban, their assumptions without real life comparisons, and the current lack of 5-year review studies to see if supposed savings actually occurred, as covered before.

Hardly a thoughtful European policy for the good of European citizens, who are never considered "stakeholders" in any decision affecting them.

How Regulations are Wrongly Justified
14 points, referenced:
Includes why the overall society savings aren't there, and even if they were, why alternative policies are better, including alternative policies that target light bulbs.

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