READER COMMENTS ON
"'Green News Report' - November 26, 2009"
(8 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 11/26/2009 @ 2:16 pm PT...
Why energy efficiency regulations on TV sets, light bulbs etc is the wrong way forward
Hello Desi and Brad,
What a lot of effort you've put into the report,
and so clearly laid out too - well done.
Personally, I think the California ban is wrong,
I agree it’s good to let people know how they can save energy and money, but it should be voluntary.
Well, you invite also those who are against green policies to comment... so here I go!
Where there is a problem – deal with the problem!
Energy: there is no energy shortage
(given renewable/nuclear development possibilities, with set emission limits)
and consumers – not politicians – pay for energy and how they wish to use it.
Notice: If there was an energy shortage, its price rise would limit
people using it anyway.
No need to legislate for it…
It might sound great to
“Let everyone save money by only allowing energy efficient products”
Inefficient products that use more energy can have performance,
appearance and construction advantages
Examples (using cars, buildings, dishwashers, TV sets, light bulbs etc):
For example, big plasma TV screens have image contrast and other
advantages along with their large image sizes.
Products using more energy usually cost less, or they’d be more energy
There might therefore not be any total running cost savings either,
depending on how much such a cheaper product is used.
Other factors also contribute to a lack of savings:
If households use less energy as a result of the various bans,
then utility companies make less money,
and will just raise electricity prices to cover their costs.
So people don’t save as much money as they thought.
energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy,
so people just leave TV sets etc on more, knowing that energy bills are lower,
as also shown by Scottish and Cambridge research
Either way, supposed energy – or money – savings aren’t there.
Do electrical products give out any CO2 gas?
Emissions (for all else they contain too) can be dealt with directly via energy substitution or emission processing
The excuse that dealing directly with energy and emissions takes too long,
does not hold up:
- also because of the taxation alternative……
while still wrong, is better than bans for all concerned.
This is not like a ban on dangerous lead paint!
It’s simply a ban to (supposedly) reduce electricity consumption.
TV set taxation based on energy efficiency – unlike bans – gives
Governor Schwarzenegger’s impoverished California Government income on
the reduced sales, while consumers keep choice.
This also applies generally,
to cars, buildings, dishwashers, light bulbs etc,
where politicians instead keep trying to define what people can or can’t use.
Politicians can use the tax money raised to fund home insulation
schemes, renewable projects etc that lower energy use and emissions
more than remaining product use raises them.
Energy efficient products can have any sales taxes lowered, making
them cheaper than today.
People are not just hit by taxes, they don’t have to buy the higher
taxed products – and at least they CAN still buy them.
Of course, to avoid smuggling, bans (and to a lesser extent taxes) have to be applied nationwide or internationally.
Both bans and taxes are in any case unjustified, taxes just being a comparably better option.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 11/26/2009 @ 3:10 pm PT...
Hello, and thanks for all you do. Truth is a gift that is invaluable, which you bring us.
Also, that land mass in photo looks like a turkey. Really! Happy holiday to you all!
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 11/27/2009 @ 10:46 am PT...
Peter Dublin said:
Personally, I think the California ban is wrong, I agree it’s good to let people know how they can save energy and money, but it should be voluntary.
I think calling it "ban" is not wholly accurate. They are setting efficiency standards, and the bulk of the TV manufacturers, from my understanding, have no problem with it, since most of their sets already meet those standards.
But this will allow consumers to make an informed purchasing decision.
While I can see from a quick glance at your website that you believe in pure market-driven competition (classic Milton Friedman-like theory), I believe the record for pure volunteerism from manufacturers has proven itself, over and over again, to be a miserable failure, that has cost this country and planet uncountable treasure.
Corporations have one interest: Profit. While you and I, and our governments, etc. have additional interests that are not taken into account by purely profit-driven corporations, despite the fact that they've (outrageously) been given "personhood".
If pure "competition" worked, there would be no need for governments or regulations, essentially. And that theory has shown itself to be pure bunk, time and again. That is, unless you enjoy melamine in your toothpaste, and other corporate travesties.
Well, you invite also those who are against green policies to comment... so here I go!
Well done. Thanks for your input (whether I personally agree with it or not --- yes, we do support democracy and free speech around here!)
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 11/27/2009 @ 7:01 pm PT...
Thanks for your comments, Peter. There are a few items of note to add to Brad's response.
First, it is categorically incorrect to call the new efficiency standards a "ban".
The new standards only affect televisions sold in California starting in 2011; about a quarter of current models already meet those standards. California consumers will still be able to purchase energy-hungry TVs from other states, as will consumers across the country.
As the nation's most populous state, California's energy requirements are projected to rise considerably in the future. The California Air Resources Board mandated new efficiency requirements as part of a long-term strategy to save taxpayer money by avoiding the need to spend billions of dollars building additional power plants to meet the projected demand. Needless to say, that's important to California taxpayers.
California led the way in the 1970s in establishing energy efficiency standards for household appliances like refrigerators. This did not negatively impact that industry, and in fact resulted in enhanced consumer options and help for consumers in making informed choices all across the country. In the same way, labeling standards for everything from nutritional information to ingredients to prescription drugs were not only not volunteered by industry but were actively fought against by industry lobbyists (outside of the 'free market'); none of these consumer-friendly actions would have occurred had it not been mandated by government for the benefit of consumers.
At this time, manufacturers do not label their televisions with energy information, so consumers have no way of making an informed choice.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 11/27/2009 @ 7:19 pm PT...
An additional response for Peter... you said:
>If households use less energy utility companies >make less money, and will just raise electricity >prices to cover their costs
You may be unaware that in California and many other states, utility rates and utility profits have been decoupled, meaning that shareholder profit is not dependent upon the perverse incentive of encouraging consumption in order to sell ever more energy to increase receipts.
You also may be unaware that California law requires a two-thirds majority in the state legislature to pass any new tax or tax increase; therefore, your idea of an additional tax on certain products would be unlikely to pass. For that matter, it would also not provide any additional information labeling for the consumer to make the informed choice that works best for them.
From your website: "By definition, efficiency regulation means that some products will be excluded from the market, as the elimination of today's common light bulbs shows." Except that this is not true; while it's true that some states have chosen to ban the incandescent bulb altogether, manufacturers like Phillips and GE have suddenly been inspired to improve the energy efficiency of incandescents, after 100 years of nearly zero attempts at innovation.
Besdies, is not the same effect seen in adding taxes onto specific products? At least with energy efficiency standards, the state saves taxdollars by avoiding building new power plants altogether, rather than having to add yet another tax to pay for them. (tobacco taxes bring in revenue to pay for the state's increased costs in negative public health impacts)
You also suggested that cheap energy leads to more waste:
>so people just leave TV sets etc on more, >knowing that energy bills are lower,
... you may be unaware that doesn't apply to California residents. Even though California's population has nearly doubled since the 1970s, our per capita energy consumption has remained flat while it has jumped 40% in other parts of the country.
This is due in no small part to the dedication of Californians to practice smart energy use, energy efficiency and conservation --- which pays off in real dollars regardless of whether energy is cheap, expensive, or artificially constrained as it was during the Enron scandal.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 11/30/2009 @ 8:14 am PT...
Thanks Brad and Des for the comments
As for being a ban:
Not allowing the sale of products that don't meet certain efficiency standards is the same as a ban on such products.
Now, Des makes the good point about ordinary household incandescent light bulbs that can be made more efficient.
(the same argument principles apply here to any other product)
Indeed incandescent light bulbs can be made more efficient, not only as Halogens, but also in other ways
OK isn't it great for consumers that manufacturers are forced to only make more efficient versions of a product?
Firstly, because energy efficiency is only one advantage - and Halogens and other incandescents have different qualities in
appearance, construction, light quality, cost etc
(simlarly more energy using TVs, cars, and other products also have other advantages, as said previously)
Secondly because any need to save energy can be challenged,
as can the savings involved,
as can the fact that it's "good to save on power plants" etc - if people wish to pay for using a certain light it's in my view no
better or worse than if they want say a loaf of bread that requires more energy in its manufacture, which again they -as consumers-
(if all this does'nt hold, taxation is still a better choice -see below)
The radio tube wasn't banned just because the transistor arrived.
They were used less anyway.
People saw the advantage of transistors.
They can also see the advantages of energy saving products
- if they CAN'T see the advantage,
that is (as said) because other product features that they want aren't there, or are sacrificed in the search for energy efficiency.
Notice: The supposed great energy savings of bans (or, if you prefer, not allowing the more energy using versions of products) only arises because that is what people WANT to buy.
No savings benefit of banning impopular products!
The idea often stated that
"people won't buy expensive products though it saves them money in the long run" - does not hold up, you don't keep buying a
cheap product (eg light bulb) if it doesnt give you what you want,
nor do you avois=d expensive alternatives - or no expensive alternatives would exist and be sold eg Energizer bunnies =batteries,
or washing up liquid commercials, "expensive to buy but cheap in the long run.
Banning what people want to buy is also going to turn them away from cooperating in more important environmental measures.
Now, that brings us to what Brad says about Markets.
Basically when it comes to energy,
markets function - consumers save money in saving energy,
and can see that advantage in their purchases for themselves, as said, compared to other advantages.
If there's an energy shortage, which might happen with finite coal-oil-gas
1. so less such energy is used anyway, and renewable energy become more attractive
2. energy efficient products themselves become attractive = no need to legislate for it
(think of cars).
so where I agree markets don't work is with emissions. - no natural cost incentives involved.
That is why, as explained on the website, you deal directly with emissions in electricity and transport sectors
-and it doesnt necessarily involve great expense and time
Even if all the above was wrong,
taxation is better as explained.
Sure- as Des more or less says - I know that "tax" is a forbidden word in the USA
- but the point is that at Federal or State level, the overall tax can also be LOWERED on the more efficient products - and tax
money go to what the public can see as environmentally beneficial activities.
Also, where bans are the clear alternative, people will prefer taxes - they don't have to buy the taxed alternatives.
Taxation itself is in principle unwarranted,
but is better than bans,
involves the efficient product manufacturing incentives you mention,
and can be removed once emission targets are met, retaining consumer choice.
So in agreeing overall environmentally,
whatever about the CO2 - global warming question,
emission lowering has advantages in terms of all else the emissions contain, and
focusing on electricity/transport also gives other benefits as explained on
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 11/30/2009 @ 10:30 am PT...
Will let the bulk of your comments speak for themselves. I disagree with your general underlying notion, obviously, that there is little or no need for the government to step in here to help manage what are, infact, finite, limited resources.
And whether "taxation" is the better solution is also largely moot, because the Right will simply not allow such taxes, on anything, whether it's the right or wrong thing to do. So alternate solutions must be found. CA has a record of success with their solutions, whether you are able to appreciate that fact or not, akin to the energy ratings for TVs, so I have no problem with them.
But one point, in particular, I did want to reply to. You said:
2. energy efficient products themselves become attractive = no need to legislate for it(think of cars).
Really? How'd that work out for the U.S. car industry? And the people who work for them? And the economy that comes to rely on such a large industry, and collapses when it fails?
How did the auto industry respond AFTER the Bush Admin disallowed we the people of CA from mandating efficiency standards for our own cars? They destroyed the electric car --- literally crushed the beloved EV1s, despite waiting lists and HUGE consumer love for them --- because, apparently, they decided they could make more short-term profit with internal combustion engines.
How'd all that work out for the industry after all? Competition was crushed, the will of the people ignored in favor of an (ill-considered) interest in short-term profits for share holders, and the auto industry collapsed.
Other than that, the free-market works great, and we should allow industry to use as much of our limited resources as they want, in any way that they want it. Sigh...
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 11/30/2009 @ 11:23 am PT...
Agree about promoting low emission electric or other cars
-that's part of the electricity/transport policy I mentioned
However emission taxation is in my view then the way
(like a "good European" maybe I believe more in taxes - at least compared to bans - and in fact, despite the EU otherwise having a lot of efficiency based regulation I believe to be wrong, there is over here emission taxation rather then fuel effioiency regulation on cars.
The reason emission tax is better is that no fuel is then seen as preferable to any other.
In USA the worry is over imported oil - but again
that can in that case simply be taxed, leaving free consumer choice of what people want to use
- but yes, I do understand the tax politics)
What I really was getting at in that comment,
was that people -as you say- saw for themselves that fuel efficient cars were preferable
which sank GM.
Then Obama comes in and says GM "has to make fuel efficient cars":
Companies can and should see the benefit of that for themselves, and if they can't and their rivals do, well that's what responding to consumer demand is all about.
I don't see that President Obama necessarily knows what car you or I want to buy.
If it's fuel efficient, that is as said something people can see for themselves, any gas shortage leads to price rise and increased demand for such cars anyway - without legislation.
Emissions - unlike energy -not being an issue that can be solved on the marketplace,
means that the suggested emission taxation will skew consumer demand in favour of low emitting cars.
Hey Brad, I'm going to win you over to my way of thinking yet