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Bright ideas

From today, the manufacture or import of the 60W filament bulb is no longer permitted across Europe. Opinions obviously differ on whether this is a bold environmental step forward, or an example of nanny state philosophy.

The decision makes me mindful, once again, of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics, or DUKES Report. Published annually by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, it summarises all sources and uses of energy in the United Kingdom.

Broadly, the report illustrates that the UK’s total energy consumption could be divided into three approximately equal groups. The first is transport; the second is heating; the third is everything else. So, if you were to add up the energy used by every light bulb, every computer, every appliance and every machine across the country, the total would equal that used for heating alone.

So, if the decision on European light bulbs is environmentally driven, it can be considered only a small start. Indeed, the question of whether there is a significant environmental benefit to using “energy-saving” bulbs is still debated. Furthermore, the tax on energy for heating in the UK is set around 5%, whereas the tax on petrol and diesel is over 50%. If Europe is so concerned with environmental issues, we would do well to to divert our attention away from how we light our homes and workplaces, and instead onto how we heat them.

Chip fat

There’s two established reasons not to run your car on cooking oil: it’s a legal requirement to pay tax on vehicle fuel, and cooking oil is for cooking.

When stories like this turn up in the press, people invariably start bleating about “the environment”. Will someone please think of “the environment”. Fingers get pointed, usually at the Government, and all because finger-pointing is a lot easier than facing up to the real issues.

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