Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Throwing some light on the situation

The latest EU-mandated insanity comes into force today—I speak, of course, of the ban on 100W incandescent light-bulbs.
It is light, bright and has been around for 120 years. But from Tuesday the 100 watt bulb bows out from Britain.

Under new EU rules the manufacture and import of 100 watt bulbs and all frosted bulbs will be banned in favour of the energy-saving variety.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, compact fluorescent lamps (energy-saving bulbs) use 80% less electricity than standard bulbs.

They could also save the average household £590 in energy over their lifetime of between eight and 10 years, and if all traditional bulbs were replaced, the carbon saving would be the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off the road.

Good reasons.

Well, thank you for those spurious figures, Auntie. Now, tell me, are those your figures or are your English Literature-educated science editors just regurgitating other people's figures unquestioningly again?

And who are the Energy Saving Trust, eh? To find out, let us turn to Charlotte Gore's excellent fisking of this colossal load of crap.
Well they’re a ‘non-profit’ organisation 90% funded by the Government and includes as members The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Secretary of State for Transport, The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and The First Minister for Scotland. It gets 2% of its funding from the private sector, and boasts the membership of most of the utilities and energy producing interests, all of whom seem terrified of being perceived as un-Green by consumers.

So when the BBC reports the views of the Energy Saving Trust like this, they’re not really quoting an independent, reliable source—it’s the Government advising the Government—again.

In short, it's a classic contender for fakecharities.org—I shall go and add it as soon as I can.

Anyway, do read Charlotte's piece in full, as she addresses a number of different points including the quality of the light. However, I shall quote her conclusion here, because there's a little thing that I want to add...
And once again I’m brought back to wondering why. Why do this? Presumably the answer is “because the market has failed! People are still buying cheap bulbs that give off better lighting instead of expensive bulbs that aren’t as good. We must do something!”

Yet the market hasn’t failed. The market’s working perfectly well. People aren’t switching because the new bulbs aren’t better and cheaper than the ones that came before. I mean, even if you decide that 100w bulbs are wasteful and it’s not enough that people simply waste their own money paying to run them, why make it illegal to sell a bulb with diffusion or tinting?

This is purely to rig the competition and deny us the ability to choose for ourselves.

So the EU, a ‘Free Trade Zone’, is deciding that the manufacturers of energy saving bulbs are to be favoured (they’re produced by Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) and the manufacturers of incandescent bulbs are to be fought against. It is economic planning, without question—done on an EU wide level, using The Environment as the excuse for restricting yet another personal and economic freedom.

It is worth noting, of course, that one would have thought that the best way to get people to buy these bulbs would be to make them as cheap as possible.

"But surely," I hear you cry, "They already are? It's just that the market cannot supply them any cheaper?"

Um... No. The EU has had, since 2001, an import tariff—of a colossal 66%—on cheap CFL lightbulbs from China. As your humble Devil reported, almost two years ago today, the EU renewed those tariffs in the face of opposition from some of the biggest manufacturers.
Obviously, saving power is one very important way that we should do this and one of the easiest ways to save power is to convert to "green", low-energy light bulbs. These are so beneficial, we are told, that they will save gigawatts of power every year. In fact, so wondrous are they that the EU is banning the sale of bog-standard incandescent light bulbs from 2009.

Naturally, the great EU will encourage all of its citizens to replace all of their evil old bulbs with these near-miraculous low-energy ones, and our EU masters recognise that the best way in which to do this is to make them as cheap as possible, eh? Er, no...
THE European Commission is under fire from green campaigners and retailers for plans to extend duties on energy-efficient light bulbs from China.

The Chinese light bulbs have been subject to import duties since 2001, because the commission says the products are sold in EU markets for less than their true value.

Yesterday, EU commissioners met in Brussels and agreed to keep tariffs of 66 per cent in place, despite calls from green campaigners to bring down the price of energy-efficient light bulbs to encourage consumers to make greener choices.

Oh, jolly well done! The EU has decided to ensure that energy-efficient light bulbs remain 66% more expensive than they should be, thus ensuring a slower take-up and making both us and the Chinese poorer in the process.

What a fucking triumph: quick, go shout it from the roof tops!
Both Philips and General Electric, two electronics giants, wanted restrictions lifted. They argue that Europe needs cheap energy-efficient bulbs from China to meet growing demand. However, Osram, a German company, opposes ending the duties.

While a majority of member states were amenable to scrapping anti-dumping measures, Germany has lobbied hard to keep the restrictions in place for longer.

Speaking on behalf of the British Retail Consortium, Alisdair Gray said the proposal to extend anti-dumping measures was unjustified.

"We are really disappointed in it, because it has no basis in law; it's just caving in to one company, Osram," he said.

Wow! Y'know, it's that cross-border spirit of unity that's going to stop us all frying, ain't it just!

Or, if you were overtly cynical, you might think that it illustrated how the EU operates as a protectionist entity and block on global free trade (helping to keep everyone poorer) and that all this horseshit about how only the EU can save us from ourselves is just so much fucking bollocks.

So, thanks to the lobbying of one particular big business and the willingness of the institutionally corrupt and fascist EU, we already pay 66% more than we might for these wonderful "green" lightbulbs. And now they are legislating to ensure that we cannot buy anything other than CLRs.

Not only does this protect Osram—giving them a competitive advantage against Philips and General Electric (both of whom manufacture their bulbs in China and are thus subject to duties)—but it also substantially benefits the European Union institution itself—because the tariffs on imports go straight into EU coffers.

The only people who lose out are the Chinese and us, the citizens of the European Union countries—but neither of these entities are important, of course. The only thing that is important is that the corporatist EU has managed to appease the powerful companies who spend millions of pounds lobbying for protectionist measures.

There is an economic argument called "revealed preferences", which can be summed up by the old adage, "by their actions shall ye know them".

So, European Union Commissioner Margot Wallstrom says...
It is frustrating that so many people still either deny that climate change is happening or that we can do anything about it. (Also frustrating that some people still regard climate change as some kind of conspiracy theory or a quasi religious belief). The scientists are unanimous: It is happening. Can we do something about it? We must at least try. Mankind has more means at its disposal than ever before and needs to apply its collective wisdom to this problem. Otherwise future generations will not enjoy this earth that we enjoy.

But you need to look at the EU Commission's actions to see whether Margot is being sincere or whether she is lying like the corrupt, dishonest little bitch that she is.

So, the EU's action is to make CFLs more expensive through 66% import tariffs, when the best way to get people to adopt these "low-energy lightbulbs" would be to ensure that they are as cheap as possible.

  • Margot Wallstrom is a liar, and

  • the EU doesn't believe in climate change or,

  • if it does, it is not going to sacrifice its own revenue or put "future generations" before immediate corporate interest, and thus

  • anyone who argues that one of the virtues of the EU is that it addresses cross-border environmental problems is sadly deluded.

However, anyone who thinks that the EU is a corporatist entity which has the ultimate aim of a planned economy whilst using the evironment as a smokescreen might just be onto something. As Charlotte says...
Is there any wonder that Green is the new Red?

The only word that I would question in that sentence is "new": the Green movement is and always has been about technological regression through legislatory oppression.

The EU is broadly aligned with this authoritarian, planned economy agenda (although that entity is less interested in Green issues and more focused on power for its own sake).

So, can we fucking well leave yet?


microdave said...

You can add Hungary to the list of EU producers - I have a General Electric CFL manufactured there.

If you want to know more about the deficiencies (and the dangers) of these devices have a look here:


This goes in to some detail, including the aspect of power factor, which could become quite serious for the electricity companies when large numbers are in use.

Ben Curthoys said...

the 80% of the energy that incandescent bulbs use that doesn't get turned into light, gets turned into heat.

in a temperate climate, for at least half of the year, that heat isn't waste: it heats the house. if everyone replaced all their bulbs, there would be no saving of energy at all in the winter, as central heating systems would have to work a little bit harder to compensate.

Henry North London 2.0 said...

Madness I tell you

Next they'll be saying that the Emperor has brilliant clothes and is really warm

I cant wait to see the 6 year old who screams that hes naked as the day he was born.

Its like the Ministry of Love...

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Good post DK.

And don't forget the hordes of inspectors that will make sure you have replaced all your standard bulbs.

More here

Gareth said...

The banning of incandescent bulbs is nothing of the sort as well.

"The legislation it depends on to make this claim, regulation 244/2009, refers quite specifically to "household lamps". So the EU has not made it illegal to "place on the market" bulbs which are not intended for household use. Defra thus has no power to ban the import or sale of incandescent bulbs for use in shops, offices, factories, outhouses or anywhere which isn't a "household". And how are shops to decide, when asked for such bulbs, where a customer wishes to use them?"

dimmi said...

Love these new CFL bulbs. I like the way one I bought the other day blew up after 15 minutes use (I had thought a conventional filament bulb would have lasted at least three times as long), and I love the way the Greenies get so giddy about them.

The CFLs have mercury in them, which is very environmentally sound. Oh wait,no... it's coal power stations that emit mercury and are therefore bad. But when a CFL bulb goes bang and showers glass around the home, the Greenies don't care because clearly it's a different kind of mercury that's released and it doesn't do any damage!


Steve W said...

Yes, mercury that highly toxic, carcinogenic heavy metal, soon to be added in larger quantities to land fill....and the water supply, no doubt.

Unless of course we have some sort of specialist disposal mechanism. But that will use energy. Whether that is more or less than what is supposedly saved, I do not know.

Moreover, I bet good money that the vast majority of the population haven't a clue that their new light-bulbs are toxic.

Unintended consequences. Governments are universally incapable of comprehending them.

The only way to save energy on lighting is to switch them off when you leave the room!

Anonymous said...

Nice one DK... as always, the secret to figuring out anything like this is still 'follow the money'

Did *not* know about the import tariff. Shocking.

It makes a joke of the idea of a Free Trade Zone. It's not. It's a protectionist bloc.

Wossat? said...

Maggot Wallstrom said: "The scientists are unanimous: It [climate change] is happening."

The scientists are not unanimous you lying cunt!

Climate change has been happening since there was a fucking planet. Maybe if you removed your microcephalic head from up your lying Euro-arse you'd notice that therma-fucking-geddon doesn't exist you evil piece of goose-stepping shit!

Now give us back our fucking incandescent bulbs you turd-witted bitch!

Roger Thornhill said...

TEBAF Wallstrom: "Can we do something about it? We must at least try."

FAIL. If there is a good chance we cannot "do something about it", i.e. REVERSE Climate Change*, then our main focus should be to MITIGATE THE EFFECTS and prepare for it. THEN if and only if the project is on track and is certain to remain so until completion and we have surplus resources, look to avert it.

No, the Fascist control-fest is just TOOOO tempting for these people.

* Cnuts only need appy

Anonymous said...

In the US the prices of CFLs have fallen rapidly for two years.

They now cost about the same as incandescent because so many large retailers actively promote them.

But the failure rate is horrible. Buy three and one will fail within hours. Or flicker. After that failure becomes rare, the other two may last for years.

I use LEDs where practical. They don't cost very much now. The light has a narrow spectrum and isn't pleasant. So I don't use them everywhere.

LEDs are the future. The cost and spectrum problems are being solved.

I won't be sorry to see the CFLs depart. They are an interim technology liked by no one. But they do save power.

Lighthouse said...

Guess what?
EU Energy Commisioner Piebalgs defends his ban on his blog
by saying it INCREASES choice....
Notice the comments in the blog to that :-)

All about the strange EU and industrial politics that led to the ban:

Lighthouse said...

I should have said what an excellent post this is, Devil.

Too many journalists and indeed bloggers just regurgitate what the politicians throw at them
"save the energy of Romania" etc,
deliberate nice repeatable soundbytes.

The ban is interesting in being the most completely idiotic political decision I have seen in my life,
and that is coming from someone who happily uses other types of light too, and who is not averse to saving emissions (for all else they contain,whatever about CO2).

There is no point in posting an extensive rebuttal here,
anyone who wants can read from
http://www.ceolas.net/#li1x onwards

(I also comment extensively on Piebalgs and Wallstroms bulb ban blog posts

Some main points:

Inefficient products have advantages too, or noone would buy them, with advantages as listed with the light bulbs

Market failure arguments
don't hold, light bulbs have many given advantages apart from being cheap,
you don't keep buying a cheap product not meeting your expectation,
and for example expensive but long lasting batteries and washing up liquids are sold without problem.
Also, research shows people have tried CFLs anyway, maybe they just don't want to fill their homes with them

Any "Great savings" for the people of banning bulbs,
is just from banning what they want to buy:
No great savings from banning what people don't want to buy!
(ordinary light bulbs chosen around 9 times out of 10 by European consumers, EU Commissions own research)

Suggested savings don’t hold up, for many reasons as given, with references
and there are rebound effects too

If indeed electricity companies sell less energy with all coming efficiency bans, not just light bulbs,
then electricity price goes up, having to pay for fixed overhead and maintenance costs, regardless of using less fuel

energy efficiency effectively means cheaper energy, so people in that case leave on appliances more (and CFLs supposed to be left on anyway, to avoid reducing lifespan), as shown by Scottish and Cambridge research
- in which case no energy/emission savings)

The fundamental need to force (rather than advice on) the saving energy that people themselves want to pay for and use can be questioned:
As there is no shortage, many new energy sources are being developed,
and if there was any fossil fuel shortage the price rise would lead both to a renewable energy switch, and to an increased desire to buy efficient products anyway - without the need for legislation

unlike cars, don’t actually come from light bulbs (yes, strange isn't it?), and can be dealt with directly

If all banning reasons were nevertheless correct,
taxation is still more logical (not itself justified, but better than bans for all concerned),
since the objective with all efficiency based bans is just to lower electricity consumption,
not to ban products through being dangerous to use (they don't give out any CO2 gas, remember).
The bans are not like a ban on lead paint!

Cheap light bulbs, for example, can absorb large tax, 2 billion current EU sales
shows big government income potential also on reduced sales,
with income also usable to lower energy and emissions (eg home energy schemes, renewable energy projects) more than any remaining inefficient product use raises them.
Of course a ban is underway, but supposedly with reviews during the phase out process, and taxation is a national rather than EU decision


The one good thing is that USA and Canadian debate seems to have been re-kindled by the EU ban, ahead of their own ban implementations...

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