Patio heaters could be banned by the European Union over fears that they are contributing to global warming.

Euro-MPs will today vote on energy efficiency proposals to phase out the sale of the popular gas-burning appliances which are increasingly found outside bars, cafés and restaurants since the indoor smoking ban.

Fiona Hall, a Liberal Democrat MEP, has led the calls for the ban, which is expected to be endorsed by the parliament in Brussels.

"Patio heaters are scandalous because they are burning fossil fuels in the open sky, so producing vast quantities of CO2 with very little heat benefit," she said.

Whether there is a benefit or not isn\’t actually for Ms. Hall to determine. That\’s for the consumer to work out. As long as the damage done by CO2 emissions, the externality, has been included in the prices paid via taxation, it\’s entirely up to the individual as to whether they use such a heater or not.

I\’ve no idea what the tax on natural gas is but I\’d be amazed if it\’s less than the $80 per tonne CO2 that would cover that externality.

Can we leave yet?

10 thoughts on “Bansturbation Again”

  1. Even better, some chap from the UN (who are usually in the fore-front of the global cooling hysteria brigade) admitted that the emissions caused by patio heaters was absolutely negligible.

  2. Fed up with the cool English summer evenings?

    No longer allowed to use a patio heater?

    Then why not take one of those nice cheap CO2-emitting flights to somewhere warm?

  3. Since there are obviously so many recalcitrants, they’ll probably play it safe–and ban patios, too, to remove temptation.

  4. I’d agree with you about the externalities if the $80 was spent to counteract the external costs, but this not usually the case.

    As for the consumer (individually or collectively through the market) being able to work out the degree of benefit or disbenefit, you know how ignorant most consumers are of the full facts (especially when the best science isn’t sure about the future impact of climate change) or do you inhabit a parallel universe where the perfect market actually exists?

    Tim adds: “I’d agree with you about the externalities if the $80 was spent to counteract the external costs, but this not usually the case.” So you’re unaware of / don’t agree with the basis of Pigou taxes then? That by imposing them we get the soacially optimal amount of whatever it is, with or without hypothecation?

  5. Aware of them, don’t think they apply in this case. Tax on gas hasn’t increased because space heaters have become fashionable. Even if their CO2 impact is negligible, it does exist. Therefore gas consumption can no longer be optimal, if indeed if ever was, because neither consumers nor the taxing authority has sufficient knowledge for the market to deliver to optimal output.

  6. “Therefore gas consumption can no longer be optimal”

    With your definition of “optimal” presumably? Surely it’s the consumer, who pays for the gas in the price of his drinks, who decides whether it’s better to (a) give up smoking, (b) pay the higher price for beer, (c) drink at home, or (d) become a teetotal puritan tosspot who campaigns to ban things.

    Neither you, nor I, nor Tim can second-guess the “optimal” response since none of us has identical priorities and preferences. Hence the need for a free-market to find the optimal point. Politicians are subject to a vote every four years. The free market gives us all a vote every single time we buy something.

  7. Mark Braund:

    Those who are educated, expert, and specialized are, by and large, most qualified to derive conclusions based on empirical, objective data.

    But in matters that combine any significant mix of opinion, feelings, and preferences in the mix from which conclusions (and, therefore, policies) are to be drawn, the conclusions of the experts count only as they are influential among all others in formation of their own opinions.

    And THAT is what constitutes the superiority of the market economy and its ever-changing phenomena: market prices. For every one of us, the market data provide an accurate insight into the minds of everyone else at the moment on every subject (all those goods and services available) expressed concretely in the actions of buying and selling.

    It is the supreme expression of democracy in action in both production and distribution for everyone, responding with near-instanteneity to the smallest deviation from the structure of the
    previous instant. Through its mechanism, every consumer transmits, in no uncertain terms, just what those who produce must do to adjust his own production to their demands, i.e., to make a profit, to avoid losing.

    This by no means describes a mechanism or process to which the description “perfect” is applicable. It does, however, describe what’s “going on” in an economy and should suggest, to a thoughtful person, how extraordinarily (nearly impossible) unlikely it is that interventions by authority shall achieve the effects sought by such authority, and further,
    why such attempts so much more frequently bring about resulting conditions noticeably worse than those whose amelioration was intitially sought.

    Once one has observed such common phenomena over a time, another looms large:
    at each juncture when intervention fails to deliver conditions sought or led those to some worse than those whose amelioration was originally sought, authorities must abandon the original attempt entirely or attempt to go further in intervention (“tighten up the loopholes ” or extend the area subject to such intervention). Each abandonment is a step toward economic (and personal) freedom; each new regulation is a step toward totalitarianism.
    There is no “middle” or “Third Way” just as there is perfect extreme of either case. But the case weighs heavily (for those in the slightest interested in personal freedom) in favor of reducing regulation to the barest minimum consistent with a civil society, if only because each step in the other direction is virtually guaranteed to bring yet another and another in a succession toward tyranny, not only of market phenomena but of existence itself (since that is what is expressed by the market).

    This is, of course, not entirely appropos of the discussion. But I thought it only fair–and reasonable–to lay out as succinctly as I’m capable, those thing which are so well understood and internalized by those making a study of economics that for one to seem not to understand such matters seems reason enough for snickering and derisive name-calling.

    So, for now, I’ll give you something to mull over and maybe come to some other conclusions. And, if not–there’s plenty of time for name-calling later!

  8. how do we think the Europe wide patio heater co2 emissions compare to the emissions of flying the MEPs and assorted staff from brussles to strasborg?

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