September 11, 2009
The ban on ordinary light bulbs is an extraordinary consumer ban on a product that is safe to use.
We are not talking about banning lead paint here – and light bulbs don’t give out any CO2 gas. Power stations do.
Note therefore the consumer legislation irony,forcibly replacing a cheap, simple, safe, popular product with an expensive, complex, mercury-releasing, unpopular product as the main proposed alternative.
Europeans (like Americans) choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (European Commission and light industry data 2007-8).
Banning what people want gives the supposed “great savings for them” – no point in banning an unpopular product!
If new LED lights – or improved CFLs etc – are good, people will buy them – no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point).
If they are not good, people will not buy them – no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point).
The arrival of the transistor didn’t mean that more energy-using radio valves/tubes were banned…they were bought less anyway.
The need to save energy? Advice is good and welcome, but bans are another matter. People -not politicians – pay for energy and how they wish to use it.
There is no energy shortage – on the contrary, more and more renewable sources are being developed –
and if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would lead to more demand for efficient products – no need to legislate for it.
Supposed savings don’t hold up anyway, for many reasons to do with CFL brightness, lifespan, the power factor, lifecycle, the heat effect of ordinary bulbs, and other referenced research.
If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans, electricity companies make less money, and they’ll simply push up the electricity bills to compensate (especially since power companies often have their own grids with little supply competition).
Energy regulators can hardly deny any such cost-covering exercise, in which case less money savings.
Conversely, since energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy, people simply leave appliances on more than before, as shown by Scottish research previously reported on EurActiv (and in the case of “energy saving” lights, CFLs, they’re supposed to be left on more anyway, to avoid cutting down on their lifespan) – in which case less energy savings, adding to all the other reasons against supposed savings, as linked above.
That is not to deny that savings can be there – but not to the extent supposed, and insignificant in an overall view, compared with proper politics dealing directly with any energy or emission problems: a positive worldview believing in the ability to supply and deliver, not a negative world view of let’s-all-cry-into-our-beer-and-cut-down-and-save.
This type of petty interventionist banning politics, that Brussels is so good at, only serves to alienate people from cooperating in future more significant lifestyle changes in the pro-ban climate change agenda:
The only real “energy saving” going on here is in the mental activity of politicians in Brussels, London and Dublin.
Emissions? Does a light bulb give out any gases? Why should emission-free households be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use?
Low-emission households already dominate some regions, and will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology and/or energy substitution.
The taxation alternative
As previously said, a ban on light bulbs is an extraordinary consumer ban, it’s not about banning a product that’s not safe to use. This is simply a ban to reduce electricity consumption.
Even for those who remain pro-ban, taxation to reduce consumption would be fairer and make more sense, also since governments can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects, etc.) more than any remaining product use causes such problems.
A tax of a few dollars that reduces current sales (the EU, like the USA, records 2 billion sales per annum, the UK 250-300 million pa) and raises future billions would retain consumer choice. It could also be revenue-neutral, lowering any sales tax on efficient products.
When sufficent low-emission electricity delivery is in place, the tax would be lifted.
Taxation is itself unjustified: it is simply a better alternative, for pro-ban politicians as well as for everyone else.
Of course an EU ban is underway, but in phases, supposedly with reviews in a couple of years time…maybe the debate in the USA and Canada will be affected by the issues being raised over here?
Anyone interested in the strange background EU and industrial politics that led up to this ban can read
Peter Thornes, ceolas.netAuthor : Letters to the EurActiv editor