Month: June 2019

I Paesi in via di sviluppo pagano il nostro ambientalismo

L’ambientalismo anti-scientifico e pauperistico rischia di danneggiare i Paesi in via di sviluppo

Per quelli di noi che possono permettersi di avere un termostato intelligente, che regola la temperatura in base alla temperatura esterna, è una grande comodità. Ma ha un costo. La protezione e lo sviluppo ambientale sono, indubbiamente, una causa giusta e nobile che però ha un costo.

Dopotutto, attraverso i cambiamenti negli atteggiamenti dei consumatori, le più recenti innovazioni sono diventate più sicure, più sostenibili e in generale più “verdi”. È quello che spinge i supermercati a scambiare i loro sacchetti di plastica per quelli di carta, e per nuovi prodotti come cannucce di metallo e bottiglie di bevande per diventare vitali.

Purtroppo, questo meraviglioso sentimento condiviso da un numero crescente di consumatori non si traduce altrettanto bene nel mondo della politica. La bellezza dell’innovazione orientata al consumatore è che si tratta di un processo naturale: i consumatori acquistano verde sia perché lo vogliono e perché possono permetterselo. Mettere lo stesso principio in politica spesso trascura questo passaggio cruciale.

L’atteggiamento della politica rischia di scaricare gli effetti negativi soprattutto sui Paesi in via di sviluppo. I paesi avanzati con buone intenzioni ignorano i bisogni e le capacità delle nazioni più povere nel nome dell’ambientalismo.

Prendiamo, ad esempio, un imminente conferenza in Kenya, tenuta congiuntamente dall’Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l’alimentazione e l’agricoltura (FAO) e dal Centro mondiale di conservazione degli alimenti. La “Prima conferenza internazionale sull’agroecologia che trasforma l’agricoltura e i sistemi alimentari in Africa” ​​mira ad attuare le politiche dell ‘”Agroecologia” in tutto il continente.

L’agroecologia propagandata dalla conferenza si riferisce a uno stile di agricoltura più “organico”, uno che è libero (o, almeno, meno dipendente) dai fertilizzanti sintetici e dai pesticidi. Di per sé, questa può sembrare una missione piuttosto nobile; se tali sostanze sono dannose per l’ambiente, perché non dovremmo voler ridurre il loro utilizzo?

Bene, in nazioni sviluppate come la nostra, questa sarebbe la reazione giusta. Il nostro settore agricolo, così come la nostra capacità di importare da altre nazioni, ci consente il lusso di chiedere riduzioni di tali pratiche agricole senza troppa preoccupazione per gli effetti sulla nostra offerta di cibo. Dopo tutto, se optare per l’opzione “organica” rappresenta qualche quid in più ogni settimana, qual è il problema?

In molte parti dell’Africa, dove questa conferenza si tiene, questo lusso purtroppo non esiste. Non dovrebbe sorprendere che i metodi di agricoltura agroecologica siano, in genere, molto meno efficienti rispetto alla moderna alternativa meccanizzata (una conclusione raggiunta in uno studio condotto da sostenitori agrocologici). In un continente che è stato a lungo afflitto da una scarsa crescita economica e, molto più gravemente, gravi carestie e scarsità di cibo, il rischio di passare a metodi meno produttivi in ​​nome dell’ambiente sarebbe cieco alle necessità di un’economia in via di sviluppo .

Visto semplicemente, si potrebbe facilmente etichettare questa visione del mondo e la prescrizione come arrogante. Se le persone nei paesi sviluppati (o altrove per quella materia) desiderano stabilire una fattoria biologica e agroecologica per promuovere un sistema più rispettoso dell’ambiente, allora hanno più potere per loro. Ma semplicemente non possiamo aspettarci che questo si applichi ai paesi in via di sviluppo come quelli in Africa.

La realizzazione di pratiche e tecnologie sostenibili e rispettose dell’ambiente nei paesi in via di sviluppo dovrebbe essere raggiunta attraverso maggiori investimenti e commercio, stimolando la crescita economica e lo sviluppo. A seguito della Brexit, il Regno Unito si troverà in una posizione ideale per farlo senza le restrizioni della politica agricola comune dell’UE, che ha reso ancora più difficile il commercio con gli agricoltori dei paesi in via di sviluppo.

I cuori degli ambientalisti sono certamente nel posto giusto, ma suggerimenti come quelli della prossima conferenza di agroecologia minacciano di negare alle economie in via di sviluppo le possibilità di crescita e sviluppo di cui hanno disperatamente bisogno. Investiamo in questi paesi e lasciamo che le innovazioni si scatenino mentre le loro economie migliorano.

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Frivolous Lawsuits Against Scientific Innovation Are Just Another Form Of Socialism

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products, yet they’re becoming startlingly common.

Only 51 percent of Americans think socialism would be a bad thing for the country, according to a Gallup poll released in May. Although the 2020 election will be a big test for whether socialism gains a foothold, freedom-lovers should be worried more broadly than at the polls.

The slide towards socialism is taking root not only at the ballot box, but also from the jury box. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are having wild success in their campaign to redistribute wealth from innovative companies to sympathetic clients—all while taking a healthy cut for themselves, of course.

Unjustified and outsized verdicts harm society by discouraging investment in innovative products. Researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Tilburg University recently aggregated data from more than 40,000 lawsuits filed between 1996 and 2011 and found that “frivolous lawsuits tended to focus on highly innovative businesses,” costing the average defendants $1.1 million each year. They found that the cases were, in effect, a disproportionate tax on innovation.

Consider the recent $2 billion jury verdict against Bayer AG (which acquired Monsanto) for allegations that its Roundup herbicide, made with glyphosate, caused cancer in plaintiffs. This was the third verdict for plaintiffs in California in the last year, with more than 13,400 cases pending nationwide.

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under Democrat and Republican administrations alike, has thoroughly and repeatedly evaluated glyphosate and found that it is not a carcinogen and it poses, “no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate.” The risk-averse European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) similarly does not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. Australian and Canadian regulators reached the same conclusion.

But plaintiffs’ lawyers are making bank on a controversial report issued by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an affiliate of the scandal-ridden World Health Organization. In all but one of its 900 evaluations, IARC’s flawed methodology led it to identify a chemical (Caprolactam), as “not” carcinogenic to humans.

Cherrypicking Data to Make Bank with Gullible Juries

IARC’s conclusion that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans was particularly tainted. Christopher Portier, a consultant for lawyers suing on behalf of “victims” of glyphosate, and a part-time employee of Environmental Defense Fund, was behind the initiation IARC’s evaluation glyphosate. He then served as an “invited specialist” for IARC, despite having no background in chemical research. Not surprisingly, IARC relied on cherrypicked low-value studies and excluded relevant safety data.

That report then became the centerpiece of an anti-glyphosate campaign Portier led to undermine the safety findings of every major government evaluation of the herbicide. The outlier report and the political campaign to leverage it prompted the executive director of EFSA, Bernhard Url, to offer dramatic testimony before the European Parliament’s environment committee, lambasting IARC’s politicized work and how far it strayed from EFSA’s transparent peer-reviewed scientific work.

Url pointed out that the activism and the turmoil it caused by undermining legitimate studies suggested we have entered the “Facebook age of science,” where you post a report you like “and you count how many people like it. For us this is no way forward.” In this environment, it’s easy to see how a group of jurors, asked to evaluate “conflicting studies,” could side with sympathetic plaintiffs over a big chemical company.

I could imagine jurors in the $2 billion verdict thinking, “I don’t really know whether this product caused Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but a big verdict in their favor will help them more than it’ll hurt Bayer.” Bayer’s share price fell 6 percent on news of the verdict, reflecting investor concern about liability in the thousands of other cases.

False Lawsuits Are Attacks on Discovery

Put aside the cost to a typical investor’s retirement account and consider the costs to society in a world where innovative scientists have to answer the following questions from potential investors: Let’s say your product actually does the wonderful things you are developing it to do. Let’s also say that regulators around the world repeatedly vouch for the safety of its proper use.

But what’s to stop plaintiffs from ginning up enough high-dose animal studies to get IARC to study it, leading to an almost certain cancer warning? And what’s to stop those lawyers from using that report to canvas for cancer patients who used the product? Won’t this be another glyphosate?

There are no good answers to these questions. And that’s why these types of cases represent a serious attack on progress.

We are all beneficiaries of technology. Whether it’s lower-cost food and reduced soil erosion because of glyphosate, or critical components of computers, cell phones, and aircraft, innovation makes life better for everyone. That’s why they are so widely used.

Sadly, if not ironically, it’s also why enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking to capitalize on sympathy towards socialism, both abroad at IARC, and at home in the jury pool. For them, it’s a solid investment.

Don’t look to Congress to fix the problem anytime soon. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, passed in 2016, made it clear that the legislation would not preempt toxic tort litigation.

The best we can hope for is a more scientifically literate populace who, as jurors, are less likely to be duped by those who game the system. We should also be cautious about what we share on social media. As Smokey Bear said, “Only YOU can stop forest fires.” And only YOU can tamp down the “Facebook age of science.” At a time when nearly half of Americans don’t seem to understand the threat of creeping socialism, it’s time for those of us who do to be on guard on all fronts.

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. He is also a senior fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and a policy advisor to the Heartland Institute.

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Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@YaelOss
[email protected]

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

Charlotte, NC – Yesterday it was reported that North Carolina Republicans have introduced a provision that would allow bars, clubs, and restaurants to stay open until 4 AM during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski responded to the news stating that extending the hours that facilities can serve alcohol shouldn’t just be a temporary measure for big city political conventions, but should instead be allowed statewide from here on out.

“What message are we sending about consumer choice if we only pass modern alcohol policies when a party comes to town,” asked Ossowski.

“Giving business owners the permanent option of staying open later to serve customers would provide the exact same economic benefits state legislators are touting about temporarily giving business owners that option in August 2020 during the RNC.

“Extending the time for ‘Last Call’ would be up to the individual businesses, and would be a huge boon for modernization of our state’s alcohol policy. Not only would clubs, bars, and restaurants have more flexibility, but consumers would also have a bigger range of options to choose from, and that could finally provide an incentive to lawmakers to update our state’s antiquated alcohol laws.

“Bringing North Carolina into the 21st Century when it comes to alcohol policy should be a priority for state legislators, and that is something that should be embraced for all North Carolina residents, not just when the RNC comes to Charlotte,” said Ossowski.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Relatório indica que regulamentação da TV paga prejudica consumidor brasileiro

Para o Centro de Escolha do Consumidor (CESCO), ligado ao Students For Liberty Brazil, a legislação brasileira ameaça o futuro digital do país

O Centro de Escolha do Consumidor (CESCO), ligado ao Students For Liberty Brasil, divulgou esta semana um estudo acerca das barreiras que o Brasil enfrenta para participar de um Mercado Único Digital. A nota de política discute como a regulamentação da TV paga pode ser uma grande barreira no futuro digital do país.

Os autores Andrea Giuricin, Fred Roeder e André Freo apontam que as regulamentações desatualizadas privam os consumidores brasileiros da liberdade de escolher serviços e conteúdo, impedindo o Brasil de se tornar competitivo nos mercados digitais globais. De acordo com o documento, a legislação brasileira bloqueia a criação de um mercado digital único, onde operadores poderiam integrar conteúdo e canais para fornecer serviços de mídia melhores e mais abrangentes.

Os autores advogam que a integração entre a produção de conteúdo e sua distribuição, impedida pela legislação atual, é uma grande oportunidade para o país e pode ser observada em outros mercados desenvolvidos. “A capacidade de atender melhor às necessidades dos clientes com serviços mais personalizados oferece benefícios aos consumidores, como tem sido visto nos EUA e na Europa”, eles argumentam.

Elesambém salientam a necessidade de um novo marco regulatório, reconhecendo que é impossível prever como os serviços digitais e de mídia serão processados no futuro. “A possibilidade de ter menores custos devidos a escala do serviço, devido a um mercado de mais de 200 milhões de consumidores, apresenta uma enorme oportunidade para atração de investimentos para o Brasil”, defende o CESCO. O grupo sustenta que isso geraria mais emprego e mais serviços de qualidade para os consumidores. O relatório pode ser consultado aqui.

UN exacerbates global hunger

UN’s insistence on organic food prolongs the needless starvation of millions on the globe’s poorest continent, says Bill Wirtz. 

This month the World Food Preservation Center in partnership with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, will hold the first “International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa”, in Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of this conference is to promote organic and non-GMO farming as part of a complete “socio-economic transformation” of Africa. A misguided and unscientific overhaul, it would devastate the parts of developing Africa that need innovation the most.

The fascination for increased organic farming isn’t new. In the UK, organic production makes up almost ten per cent of total farming, with Environment secretary Michael Gove being pushed continuously to do more for organic farming on a public policy level. The French government is increasing subsidies to organic farms in an effort to reach 15 per cent organic production by 2022.Germany and Luxembourg have set goals of 20 per cent organic production by 2025 and 2030 respectively.

Even the international development community has bought into the concept – but they’ve taken it to a whole new level. Led by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), development programs and assistance are increasingly being predicated on adoption of “agroecology,” which takes organic farming as its starting point and adds on a series of social and economic theories that seek to achieve the “total transformation” of agricultural production, and even society as a whole.

According to its original definition, agroecology is simply the study of ecological practices applied to agriculture. What started out as science, however, has morphed into a political doctrine that not only rules out modern technologies such as genetic engineering, advanced pesticides and synthetic fertilizer, but explicitly extols the benefits of “peasant” and “indigenous” farming and in many cases discourages mechanization as a way of freeing the world’s poor from backbreaking agricultural labor. Add on to a hostility to international trade and intellectual property protections for innovators (“seed patents,” which are standard in all advanced crops, not just GMOs, are a frequent cause of complaint) and you can see why agroecology’s promoters so often talk about it as “transformative.”

We should remember, however, that not all “transformations” are good. They can just as easily be bad, even catastrophic. A recent study by pro-agroecology activists found that applications of their principles to Europe would decrease agricultural productivity by 35% on average, which they considered a positive, as in their view Europeans eat too much anyway. It’s hard to see how a 35% drop in productivity among the world’s rural poor – a large percentage of the 800 million people who currently suffer from malnutrition – would be anything other than a calamity.  

As someone from a family that were peasants from their existence until the end of the last world war, I can only stand in awe at the idea of ridding agriculture of mechanisation. My ancestors worked 60-hour weeks of hard manual labour, and it was modern agriculture that was able to make them more productive and allow them free time: something they were never able to enjoy before.

There is nothing wrong with practicing “peasant farming” on a purely voluntary basis, within a community of people who enjoy being one with nature (and/or inflicting terrible back pain on themselves). In fact, in a Western world of mechanised farming, it is even sustainable to have some farms operate in such a fashion (even if it requires increased subsidies), for the purpose of pleasing nostalgic customers. However, what is truly disturbing is when agroecology activists and international institutions supposedly dedicated to alleviating poverty are willing to distort the scientific reality and impose their ideology on those who can least afford it.

The Nairobi conference

The conference held in Kenya is a combination of two events that were initially set to be organised at the same time. “The Eastern Africa Conference on Scaling up Agroecology and Ecological Organic Trade” and the “1st All Africa Congress on Synthetic Pesticides, Environment, and Human Health“. Scrolling through the list of organisers and participants, it’s most notable that agencies, institutions, and organisations that don’t endorse agroecology, or have a scientific view on herbicides and GMOs contrary to the pushed narrative, won’t be present. Seemingly, some people were not supposed to ruin the party.

And a party it will be. That is, at least, if you’re of the belief that the end justifies the means when spreading misinformation about pesticides and GMOs.

One of the speakers at the conference is Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French biologist and anti-GMO activist. He is famous for his 2012 study claiming to demonstrate that that rats fed with genetically modified corn reported an increase in tumours. What followed was coined the “Séralini affair”, with various regulatory authorities and scientists dismissing the study for deep-rooted methodological flaws. The study was later retracted, and four recent government-funded studies (three by the EU and one by France) have now thoroughly refuted the Seralini thesis. 

Other speakers speakers include fringe scientists Don Huber and Judy Carmen, both of whom have made similar – and similarly debunked – claims about GMOs, and Tyrone Hayes, who is famous for his claim, now championed by conspiracy monger Alex Jones, that the herbicide atrazine, in his words “turns frogs gay”. Such an invite would be discrediting for any major organisation, but seemingly the FAO doesn’t seem to care.

And still, even though the conference disreputes itself merely by its choice of speakers, agroecology is making leaps forward (pun intended). Through the FAO, these policies are increasingly being required by international governmental organisations and NGOs as a condition of receiving financial aid.

Now that it is expanding to Africa, which is in desperate need of mechanisation and of efficient farming methods, it needs to be called out for what it is: anti-science activism, based on environmentalist fantasies. Agroecology as a political doctrine, has no place in science-based policy discourse, and its promotion – given the scientific knowledge we have to today – is immoral. It needs to be stopped.

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A new Middle Ages for science

GMOs and pesticides are safe – ignore the anti-science hysterics who say they aren’t.

It’s usually an upper-middle-class elite, living in the metropolitan centre, that shops for organic and GMO-free food items from fancy stores. That’s fine, nobody really has an issue with people paying more for green carton packaging and food with no added health benefits. What is concerning, however, is that, increasingly, the same people want to impose their habits on those who don’t believe in it and those who can’t afford it.

Despite scientific evidence showing the safety of gene-edited crops and modern pesticides, radical activist groups are trying to get them banned. But as some politicians are still choosing to listen to scientific arguments, activists are shooting the messenger.

The head of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Dr Bernhard Url, says that just because you don’t like the results, ‘don’t shoot science’. He adds that ‘if science becomes just one more opinion, which can be overlooked in favour of superstition, this carries an enormous risk for society’.

EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis even speaks of a new ‘Middle Ages’ for science and of a witch-hunt. The former Lithuanian minister of health even points to established newspapers such as France’s Le Monde misrepresenting scientific evidence, saying: ‘We sent [them information] several times to explain the reality, [but] it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t work.’

He could have been talking about the UK’s Defra minister, who apparently wants to ban even synthetic fertilisers, or the French agriculture minister, who says farming should return to the practices of our ‘grandparents’. Never mind that the EU already has to import food in order to have enough to eat. The bureaucrats at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation are pushing the same regressive, low-yield organic practices on malnourished African farmers in the name of promoting – this is no joke – ‘peasant’ agriculture.

Anti-science activists likely don’t care. The scientists who enthusiastically talk about new types of crops made possible by new forms of gene-editing that could banish food insecurity from the world will be drowned out by an avalanche of unscientific bogus claims. Standing up to this crowd with facts gets you slandered and labelled in the most colourful of manner.

Again, nobody objects to alternative foods being sold. However, it is also the prerogative of those consumers who choose to believe in the scientific evidence and the achievements of modern agriculture to shop as they see fit. In a larger sense, it should be the aim of all enlightened individuals to defend the scientific method, as well as the realm of free expression and debate.

Bill Wirtz is a policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center.

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Trudeau’s ‘plastic ban’ won’t help the environment. It could actually harm it instead

Opinion: Alternatives have a significantly higher total impact on the environment, while inflating costs for consumers

By David Clement

This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government will seek to ban many single-use plastics starting in 2021. Although the final list of banned items is still undetermined, it will likely include plastic bags, takeaway containers, cutlery and straws. To further justify the ban, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna cited images of marine wildlife being injured or killed as a result of plastic in our oceans.

It’s a hard-to-resist pitch. No one wants to contribute to marine deaths as a result of plastic, and most of us don’t like the idea of plastic items taking over 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. These concerns ultimately stem from worries about climate change, and the environmental problems that could arise as a result.

Unfortunately for the environmentally conscious among us, a ban on single-use plastics does almost nothing for the issue of plastics impacting ocean marine life, and does very little in terms of environmental impact. Canadians are not significant polluters when it comes to marine litter. Up to 95 per cent of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world.

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Canada on average, contributes less than 0.01 MT (millions of metric tonnes) of mismanaged plastic waste. In contrast, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines contribute 10.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent of the world’s mismanaged plastic, which is upwards of 300 times Canada’s contribution. China, the world’s largest plastics polluter, accounts for 27.7 per cent of the worlds mismanaged plastic. Canada, when compared to European countries like England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, actually contributes four times less in mismanaged plastic. The only European countries on par with Canada are the significantly smaller Sweden, Norway and Finland. A plastics ban might sound productive in terms of plastics pollution, but the evidence doesn’t suggest that Canada is actually a significant contributor for mismanaged plastic, which means that a Canadian ban will do little to aid marine life devastatingly impacted by plastic pollution.

However, proponents will say we should still support the ban on the basis of trying to curb climate change. Although noble, banning plastics doesn’t necessarily equate to better environmental outcomes. In fact, some alternative products, although branded as green alternatives, have a significantly higher total environmental impact once the production process is factored in.

Take plastic bags for example, which are public enemy number one. Conventional thinking suggests that banning single-use plastic bags will result in people using reusable bags, and that this reduction in plastic use will have a positive impact on the environment. Research from Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment actually challenged that conventional wisdom when it sought to compare the total impact of plastic bags to their reusable counterparts. The Danes found that alternatives to plastic bags came with significant negative externalities. For example, common paper bag replacements needed to be reused 43 times to have the same total impact as a plastic bag. When it came to cotton alternatives, the numbers were even higher. A conventional cotton bag alternative needed to be used over 7,100 times to equal a plastic bag, while an organic cotton bag had to be reused over 20,000 times. We know from consumer usage patterns that the likelihood of paper or cotton alternatives being used in such a way is incredibly unlikely. These results were also largely confirmed with the U.K. government’s own life-cycle assessment, which concluded that these alternatives have a significantly higher total impact on the environment.

While Canadians might support the idea of a plastics ban, they don’t want to pay for it. A Dalhousie University study showed us that 89 per cent of Canadians are in support of legislation to limit plastics. However, that same study also showed that 83 per cent of Canadians were not willing to pay more than 2.5- per-cent higher prices for goods as a result of plastic regulations. This creates a significant problem for Trudeau’s ban, because higher prices are exactly what we’d see.

There are simple solutions available to us that don’t involve heavy-handed bans. First, we could focus more strictly on limiting how plastics end up in our rivers, lakes and streams. Better recycling programs and stricter littering prohibitions could go a long way to curbing the plastic Canada does contribute. For those single-use products that otherwise end up in landfills, we could follow Sweden’s lead, and incinerate that waste. Doing so creates a power source for local communities, while capturing airborne toxins, limiting toxic runoff, and significantly reducing the volume of waste.

Good public policy should address a real problem and should make a meaningful impact on the said problem. Unfortunately, Trudeau’s proposed single-use plastics ban would have little to no impact on overall ocean waste, while promoting high-impact alternatives, and inflating costs for consumers. All three of these factored together create a fairly toxic policy mix.

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center.

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Lasst Europa schneller fliegen

Der Luftverkehr sollte schneller werden. Überschallflugzeuge, innovativ weiterentwickelt, würden uns voranbringen.

Als Frankreich und Deutschland ihre Schnellzugnetze gebaut haben, revolutionierten sie so den Schienenpersonenverkehr in Europa. Was mit dem Fernbus von Brüssel nach Paris vier bis fünf Stunden dauert, kann mit dem Thalys-Zug in etwas mehr als einer Stunde erreicht werden. Das Gleiche gilt für das ICE-Netzwerk. Der Wechsel von langsamen Regionalzügen zu schnellen und futuristischen neuen Modellen hat Verbrauchern mehr Komfort und Zeiteffizienz gebracht.

In der Luftfahrt ist jedoch das Gegenteil der Fall. Seit den 1960er-Jahren sind Flugzeuge nicht schneller geworden. Die Reisegeschwindigkeiten für Verkehrsflugzeuge liegen heute zwischen 889 und 945 Kilometer pro Stunde, verglichen mit 525 Knoten für die Boeing 707, dem Rückgrat des kommerziellen Düsenverkehrs der 1960er-Jahre, schreibt Kate Repantis vom MIT. Der Grund dafür ist Kraftstoffeffizienz, was sich in realer Kosteneffizienz ausdrückt. Während Flugplaner versucht haben, die effizientesten Flugrouten zu finden, war es vor allem die Verlangsamung der Flüge, die den Treibstoffverbrauch effektiv reduzierte. Laut einer Meldung von NBC News aus dem Jahr 2008 hat die Fluglinie JetBlue durch die Verlangsamung seiner Flüge um knapp zwei Minuten rund 13,6 Millionen Dollar pro Jahr an Kerosin eingespart.

Aber Verlangsamung muss nicht die einzige Option sein, und es nützt sicherlich nicht den Verbrauchern, dass die Flugzeiten länger sind als vor 50 Jahren. Alte Regionalzüge verbrauchen weniger Strom als aktuelle Hochgeschwindigkeitszüge mit über 300 Kilometer pro Stunde. Und trotzdem versucht niemand, die ICE-Reisezeiten zu verlängern, ganz im Gegenteil.1Da wir Hochgeschwindigkeitszüge mehr und mehr nutzen, verbessert sich die Technologie und das reduziert wiederum den Energieverbrauch. Die gleiche Analogie sollte auch in der Luftfahrt gelten.

„Wenn man die Entwicklung der regulären Düsenflugzeuge betrachtet, die um 80 Prozent effizienter geworden sind, kann man sehr optimistisch sein, was Überschallflugzeuge betrifft.“

Mit dem Ende der Concorde sind Überschallflugzeuge in Europa kein Thema mehr. Bei Langstrecken-Interkontinentalflüge verkürzen Überschallflugzeuge die Flugzeit um deutlich mehr als die Hälfte. Zum Beispiel würde die Reisezeit von London nach New York von 7 Stunden auf lediglich 3 Stunden und 15 Minuten sinken. Die Kraftstoffeffizienz aktueller Überschallmodelle ist noch nicht auf dem gleichen Level wie bei Unterschallflugzeugen, aber für eine (wieder)entstehende Industrie ginge der Weg bergauf. Wenn man die Entwicklung der regulären Düsenflugzeuge betrachtet, die um 80 Prozent effizienter geworden sind als die ersten Modelle, kann man sehr optimistisch sein, was Überschallflugzeuge betrifft. Darüber hinaus unterstützen die Hersteller von Überschallflugzeugen auch die Verwendung alternativer Kraftstoffe, was gut in den 2020-Plan der Vereinten Nationen für klimaneutrales Wachstum passt. Kürzere Flugzeiten für Verbraucher, die innovative Lösungen für Umweltprobleme mögen. Was will man mehr?

Der eigentliche Haken ist der Lärmpegel. Als jemand, der in einer Stadt in der Nähe eines Flughafens aufgewachsen ist und dort fast 20 Jahre gelebt hat, kenne ich die unterschiedlichen Ansichten über Fluglärm. Viele in meinem Heimatdorf verteidigen den Flughafen aus wirtschaftlichen Gründen, während andere sich in Initiativen zusammenschließen und den Flughafen bekämpfen. Im Laufe der Jahre haben ihre Forderungen immer weniger Unterstützung gefunden, denn je effizienter die Flugzeuge geworden sind, desto weniger Lärm machen sie auch.

„Die derzeitigen Vorschriften tragen der Tatsache keine Rechnung, dass sich Überschallflugzeuge grundlegend von regulären Flugzeugen unterscheiden.“

Hier starten auch Überschallflugzeuge nicht von Grund auf neu. Während diese Flugzeuge bei der Landung und beim Start lauter sind, sind neue Modelle, wie die futuristisch anmutende Overture des Herstellers Boom, 100 Mal leiser als die Concorde. Darüber hinaus ist es wichtig, mit gleichem Maße zu messen: Überschallflugzeuge haben die Größe eines Regionaljets, sollten jedoch in der Regulierung der Lärmlimits (seitens der Internationalen Zivilluftfahrtorganisation, ICAO) in die gleiche Kategorie fallen wie große Flugzeuge, die heute interkontinental fliegen.

Ja, Überschallflugzeuge wären, zumindest vorerst, lauter. Gleichzeitig würden sie aber schnellere Reisezeiten und vielversprechende Erwartungen an eine geringere Umweltbelastung mit sich bringen. Im Beispiel des Overture-Projekts hat das amerikanische Unternehmen Boom das umweltfreundlichste Überschallflugzeug der Geschichte am Start: Der „CO2-Fußabdruck“ ist hier vergleichbar mit einem internationalen Business-Class Flug.

Das Mindeste, was wir tun können, um Wahlmöglichkeiten von Passagieren in der Luftfahrt zu verbessern, ist, Überschall eine Chance zu geben. Die derzeitigen Vorschriften tragen der Tatsache keine Rechnung, dass sich Überschallflugzeuge grundlegend von regulären Flugzeugen unterscheiden. Es gibt ein Gleichgewicht zwischen realistischer Lärmminderung und besserem Service, das sowohl die Verbraucher als auch die besorgten Bürger finden können. Dafür sollte jeder an den Diskussionstisch zurückkehren. In der Welt gibt es spannende Innovationen und Europa sollte ein Teil davon sein.

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Consumer privacy must be priority

Nearly every day we hear of more major cases of identity theft, financial crime and other forms of attacks or malicious interference on the internet. Breaches become commonplace and lax standards leave consumers worried about how their information is safeguarded.

The colossal breaches at British Airways and Marriott and Starwood in 2018 compromised the private data of hundreds of millions customers, and dozens more cases have surfaced since.

Such incidents are evidence that consumer data security, and also consumer privacy, are not being taken seriously. The adoption of Internet of Things solutions and the highly anticipated rollout of very fast 5G networks will make consumers’ privacy even more vulnerable in the next few years.

President Trump’s executive order to prevent companies from buying hardware and software from telecommunications firms deemed a national security risk is at least one good step in protecting privacy, but it’s sad to see it had to come to that.

Trump is likely influenced by statements of FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who has warned against using telecom equipment vendors from China on the basis of both national security and concerns for privacy.

In one case last fall, it was reported that Chinese officials put immense pressure on specific private firms to include so-called backdoors in their software or devices, which may be exploited either by government agents alone or with a manufacturer’s help. That only provokes more questions as to the influence of the Chinese Community Party on the Chinese firms that sell abroad.

With that in mind, for the ordinary consumer looking to buy their next smartphone, laptop or WiFi router, how can they rest assured their privacy will be secured?

As a response to threats like this, Australia banned the Chinese network equipment manufacturer Huawei from its 5G network. The United States has effectively done the same. But blanket bans aren’t a silver bullet solution for safeguarding privacy and data security. A mix of solutions is needed.

What we need is a smart policy response that would induce companies to give sufficient weight to consumer data security, all the while achieving that goal without undue market distortions, wholesale bans of certain firms and the limiting of consumer choice.

Healthy competition between private enterprises is the best mechanism for the discovery of the right tools and applications for new tech gear. Keeping new regulation technology-neutral, and thus not deciding by law which technological solution is best, is a very good framework for consumer privacy.

The rules should be focused on outcomes and be as general as possible while still providing sufficient guidance. That means not just the biggest companies who can afford to comply will also have a chance.

At the same time, some kind of certification scheme, or even open source standard,  should be adopted to minimize the risk of any backdoors or other vulnerabilities. That said, perfect security cannot be guaranteed. But ensuring companies use encryption and secure methods of authentication should be on the table.

Ideally, there would also be more supply chain liability for telecommunications operators and infrastructure wholesalers. This would push companies to take consumer privacy and security more into account when making procurement decisions.

Outright bans motivated by security concerns have the same effects as trade restrictions in the context of a trade war. The first victim of any trade war are the consumers of the nation imposing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. Unless there is no other workable solution and unless the evidence of a serious security risk is clear, we shouldn’t resort to bans.

The debate around 5G reminds us how vulnerable consumers are in a technologically and politically complex world.

Therefore, smart regulation is needed in order to protect consumers from data breaches and to prevent autocratic governments from spying on them.

By strengthening liability of companies for technological vulnerabilities and by creating good standards, both consumer choice and privacy can be ensured.

Blunt instruments like total bans based on country of origin or regulators picking the technological champions should be seen as measures of the last resort.

Read more here

Consumer privacy must be priority

Nearly every day we hear of more major cases of identity theft, financial crime and other forms of attacks or malicious interference on the internet. Breaches become commonplace and lax standards leave consumers worried about how their information is safeguarded.

The colossal breaches at British Airways and Marriott and Starwood in 2018 compromised the private data of hundreds of millions customers, and dozens more cases have surfaced since.

Such incidents are evidence that consumer data security, and also consumer privacy, are not being taken seriously. The adoption of Internet of Things solutions and the highly anticipated rollout of very fast 5G networks will make consumers’ privacy even more vulnerable in the next few years.

President Trump’s executive order to prevent companies from buying hardware and software from telecommunications firms deemed a national security risk is at least one good step in protecting privacy, but it’s sad to see it had to come to that.

Trump is likely influenced by statements of FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who has warned against using telecom equipment vendors from China on the basis of both national security and concerns for privacy.

In one case last fall, it was reported that Chinese officials put immense pressure on specific private firms to include so-called backdoors in their software or devices, which may be exploited either by government agents alone or with a manufacturer’s help. That only provokes more questions as to the influence of the Chinese Community Party on the Chinese firms that sell abroad.

With that in mind, for the ordinary consumer looking to buy their next smartphone, laptop or WiFi router, how can they rest assured their privacy will be secured?

As a response to threats like this, Australia banned the Chinese network equipment manufacturer Huawei from its 5G network. The United States has effectively done the same. But blanket bans aren’t a silver bullet solution for safeguarding privacy and data security. A mix of solutions is needed.

What we need is a smart policy response that would induce companies to give sufficient weight to consumer data security, all the while achieving that goal without undue market distortions, wholesale bans of certain firms and the limiting of consumer choice.

Healthy competition between private enterprises is the best mechanism for the discovery of the right tools and applications for new tech gear. Keeping new regulation technology-neutral, and thus not deciding by law which technological solution is best, is a very good framework for consumer privacy.

The rules should be focused on outcomes and be as general as possible while still providing sufficient guidance. That means not just the biggest companies who can afford to comply will also have a chance.

At the same time, some kind of certification scheme, or even open source standard,  should be adopted to minimize the risk of any backdoors or other vulnerabilities. That said, perfect security cannot be guaranteed. But ensuring companies use encryption and secure methods of authentication should be on the table.

Ideally, there would also be more supply chain liability for telecommunications operators and infrastructure wholesalers. This would push companies to take consumer privacy and security more into account when making procurement decisions.

Outright bans motivated by security concerns have the same effects as trade restrictions in the context of a trade war. The first victim of any trade war are the consumers of the nation imposing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. Unless there is no other workable solution and unless the evidence of a serious security risk is clear, we shouldn’t resort to bans.

The debate around 5G reminds us how vulnerable consumers are in a technologically and politically complex world.

Therefore, smart regulation is needed in order to protect consumers from data breaches and to prevent autocratic governments from spying on them.

By strengthening liability of companies for technological vulnerabilities and by creating good standards, both consumer choice and privacy can be ensured.

Blunt instruments like total bans based on country of origin or regulators picking the technological champions should be seen as measures of the last resort.

Read more here

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