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Author: Consumer Choice Center

Neue Studie: Von Deutschlands Fehlern lernen – Energiesicherheit in der Schweiz

Das Consumer Choice Center (CCC), eine globale Konsumentenorganisation, hat seine neueste Policy Note zur Energiesicherheit in der Schweiz veröffentlicht. Die Arbeit wurde von Fred Roeder, Emil Panzaru, Frederic Jollien, Bill Wirtz und Luca Bertoletti verfasst und betont die Bedeutung von Technologieneutralität und Offenheit in der Energiepolitik.

Laut der Studie ist es anmassend und ineffektiv, konkrete Ziele zur schrittweisen Abschaffung bestimmter Energiequellen festzulegen. Stattdessen argumentieren die Autoren, dass technologische Innovationen und die Wahlmöglichkeiten der Konsumenten, die Schlüssellösungen sind, um sowohl die Energieversorgungssicherheit als auch die Nutzung vielversprechender und kosteneffizienter Energiequellen sicherzustellen. Deutschlands gescheiterte und kostspielige Energiewende sollte eine Warnung für den Standort Schweiz sein.

Roeder betont, dass Politiker aufhören sollten, fossile Brennstoffe für Autos, Heizsysteme und die Kernenergie verbieten zu wollen. Er empfiehlt, die Entscheidung zur Abschaltung der verbleibenden vier Atomreaktoren in der Schweiz rückgängig zu machen und Bewilligungen für neue Kernkraftwerke zu erteilen. Ausserdem wird die Unterstützung vielversprechender Durchbrüche in der Kernenergie, wie beispielsweise kleiner modulare Reaktoren, gefordert.

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What next after GEG? Ban on sugar, fatty food, flights to curb danger, Wan Saiful questions

KUALA LUMPUR – As Putrajaya pursues its controversial move to ban cigarettes for those born from 2007, a Bersatu leader has questioned Putrajaya if it will also ban flights, sugar and fatty food as it poses danger to health. 

Former information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said sugar poses significant health problems and flights carry inherent risks, even potentially leading to fatalities.

“So is the government going to take an easy way out to ban these products too. What next? Karaoke centres because there is a possibility of close proximity,” he said.

Wan Saiful said this during a discussion on the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023, also known as the Generational Endgame (GEG) Bill, which is currently under review by the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on health

He said such short-sighted approach of blanket ban on cigarettes would not yield results as it would push youths underground, making matters worse as it will be hard to curb illicit markets.

“Issues like this should not be touched this way. There must be stakeholder engagement on how we could tackle this,” he said, adding that it was crucial to empower the public with knowledge.

He said as for secondary smokers issue, the government could empower people to stop people from smoking as inhaling secondary smoke was unhealthy.

“My fear is we are moving towards allowing the government to take over our choices of freedom,” he said.

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Worst train stations in Europe

According to the latest study “European Railway Station Index”, conducted by the American consumer organization Consumer Choice Center, which operates globally, the worst railway stations in Europe this year were stations in Germany. The good news is that not all German train stations are bad.

The bottom places in the ranking were occupied by three metropolitan stations: the Ostkreuz station (Berlin Ostkreuz), the Gesundbrunnen station (Berlin Gesundbrunnen), the Zoological Garden station (Berlin Zoologischer Garten). Each of them scored only 54 points. The station in the Bavarian capital “München-Pasing” (München-Pasing) received an even lower score – 52 points. The least points at the central station of Bremen – only 39. Last year, the Santa Maria Novella railway station in Florence, Italy and the Haussmann-Saint-Lazare underground station in Paris were the last ones.

Old merit is not enough

For several decades, the Bremen railway station was considered the station of the highest category. This most important railway junction in the north-east of Germany appeared in the middle of the 19th century, and today all trains passing through the city, as well as international ones, stop here – an average of 80 long-distance and 450 short-range trains.

Externally, the Neo-Renaissance building is decorated with four tall red brick towers with coats of arms of German cities, while inside there are magnificent sculptures and an imperial eagle in the center. There are 9 platforms under a glass roof, and annually about 150 thousand passengers use its services. However, only these advantages at the modern pace of life are no longer enough to maintain competition. This year, the Bremen railway station was the worst of the fifty in Europe.

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LOTNISKO CHOPINA W WARSZAWIE DEBIUTUJE W PIERWSZEJ 30 EUROPEJSKICH PORTÓW LOTNICZYCH

Rok 2023 niesie ze sobą spore wyzwania i obietnice zarówno dla europejskich podróżnych, jak i portów lotniczych. W trzeciej edycji Europejskiego konsumenckiego indeksu portów lotniczych firma Consumer Choice Center udoskonaliła i zaktualizowała swoje rankingi, korzystając z danych dostarczonych przez lotniska, z raportów rocznych, statystyk internetowych i własnych niezależnych badań.

Warszawskie Lotnisko Chopina zadebiutowało w Indeksie portów lotniczych jako pierwsze polskie lotnisko w rankingu. W 2022 r. lotnisko obsłużyło 14,4 mln pasażerów, co świadczy o rosnącym znaczeniu Polski jako lidera w Europie Wschodniej i zarazem pokazuje znaczenie izolacji Rosji na arenie międzynarodowej.

Kilka najlepszych portów lotniczych w naszym indeksie nadal pozostaje w czołówce: w zestawieniu prowadzą lotniska w Zurychu, Brukseli i Frankfurcie jako trzy najlepsze porty lotnicze w Europie pod względem obsługi pasażerów.

Oceniając lotniska, wzięliśmy pod uwagę kilka czynników, od lokalizacji portu i obsługi transportowej po dostępność przyjaznych konsumentom udogodnień, takich jak sklepy i restauracje. Skupiliśmy się również na czasie oczekiwania na kontrolę bezpieczeństwa i średniej liczbie opóźnień lotów.

„Ten indeks jest istotnym źródłem informacji dla podróżnych, którzy chcą jak najlepiej wykorzystać czas podczas lotów w Europie. Złe doświadczenia na lotnisku mogą negatywnie odbić się na dobrych wspomnieniach z udanej podróży. Cieszymy się, że możemy udostępnić nasze najnowsze rankingi podróżnym z całego świata, aby mogli lepiej się przygotować i latać wygodniej” – wyjaśnia Emil Panzaru, kierownik ds. badań w Consumer Choice Center.

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Zurich Named As Best Airport in New European Ranking

2023 is shaping up to be a story of both great challenge and great promise for European travelers and airports alike. In our third edition of the European Consumer Airport Index, the Consumer Choice Center has refined and updated our rankings using data provided to us by airports, annual reports, online statistics, and our own independent research.

Several of the best-performing airports in our index remain at the top: Zurich, Brussels, and Frankfurt lead the pack as the top 3 airports in Europe for passengers.

We used several factors to assess airports ranging from their location and transportation services to the availability of consumer-friendly amenities like shops and restaurants. There’s also a focus on security waiting times, and the average caseload of flight delays.

“This index is a vital resource for travelers looking to get the most out of their experience flying in Europe. An awful airport experience can be a black mark on an otherwise incredible adventure, and we’re pleased to share our latest rankings with the world so they can be more prepared and fly smarter,” said Emil Panzaru, Research Manager with the Consumer Choice Center.

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Zurich is the Best Airport in New European Rankings

2023 is shaping up to be a story of both great challenge and great promise for European travelers and airports alike. In the third edition of the European Consumer Airport Index, the Consumer Choice Center has refined and updated the rankings using data provided by airports, annual reports, online statistics, and independent research. 

Several of the best-performing airports in the index remain at the top: Zurich, Brussels, and Frankfurt lead the pack as the top 3 airports in Europe for passengers.

Several factors were used to assess airports ranging from their location and transportation services to the availability of consumer-friendly amenities like shops and restaurants. There’s also a focus on security waiting times, and the average caseload of flight delays. 

“This index is a vital resource for travelers looking to get the most out of their experience flying in Europe. An awful airport experience can be a black mark on an otherwise incredible adventure, and we’re pleased to share our latest rankings with the world so they can be more prepared and fly smarter,” said Emil Panzaru, Research Manager with the Consumer Choice Center. 

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Government fiddles with tobacco as SA burns

Nearly 2,000 years ago, a six-day fire devastated Rome, leaving half the city’s population homeless and destroying 70% of its buildings. As panic set in, rumours spread that the emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, had played the fiddle while he watched the city burn. 

In SA today the neglect of our electricity infrastructure has led to unprecedented levels of load-shedding. A cholera outbreak is threatening municipal water supplies in five provinces, and has already claimed more than 40 lives. 

Babies born prematurely in one state hospital are placed in cardboard boxes as there are no incubators available — emblematic of the chaos and corruption that prevails throughout our healthcare system. Unemployment continues to rise, with no end in sight. Investor and consumer confidence in the economy is collapsing, in no small part thanks to the government’s foreign policy blunders.

The government is fiddling while big issues burn the country. For instance, our legislators feel now is the right time to introduce new lifestyle regulations such as the Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill. Rather than deal with the multitude of real crises that threaten South Africans’ lives and livelihoods, parliament and its health portfolio committee are fine-tuning a law that seeks to ban smoking and vaping in private premises — including our own homes. 

Another analogy is that of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic. But in many ways this is worse. That parliament should choose to focus on such an issue in SA’s current circumstances is like ordering the Titanic’s helmsman to leave his station and go clean the toilets when the iceberg has already been spotted on the horizon.

SA’s public policy agenda should be focused on the big issues that are wrecking our nation, not on nibbling away at consumer choice. As our defence and foreign affairs ministers tank the value of the rand by playing nice with Vladimir Putin, the health minister has resurrected Vladimir Lenin from the dead to write the Tobacco Bill. 

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EU Commissions’ proposed ban on coffee capsules is bad for consumers and the environment 

When deciding on the environmental impact of a product we should look at more than just the immediate waste it produces. Products have a life cycle that includes a wide range of aspects spanning over, among others, cultivation and raw materials, energy consumption intensity, transportation, and recycling possibilities. Any approach focusing on one aspect and ignoring others would be burdened with staggering flaws as it would lead to information shortages and consequently to biased views and wrong conclusions.

Case in point is the packaging regulation drafted by the EU Commission for coffee capsules (commonly referred to as coffee pods). Under the amended Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, plastic and aluminum coffee pods are set to be banned. The proposed regulation concentrates on the consequences of throwing away capsules as the prime justification for removing them from the market. In doing so, however, it neglects all other aspects related to the environment. It thus fails to realize that the alternatives to pods are far worse. 

To understand why, think about the concrete steps involved in making coffee. As every connoisseur knows, selecting the quantity and quality of coffee can be a tricky process. In economic terms, manual preparation involves subjective estimations of the amount of dry coffee needed for one cup. These judgments are often erroneous, meaning people use a larger amount than is actually needed, thus resulting in the overconsumption of raw materials. Preparing to brew can be costly too, since overheating water also consumes a large amount of energy. Each such misstep is like a leak in the value chain causing some material that could have otherwise been used elsewhere to be wasted. These errors are amplified as reliance on the human factor in coffee preparation increases: being a barista (especially your own barista) is an approximate art rather than an exact science.

Real evidence confirms the insights of economic theory. A 2017 paper examined various types of coffee preparation methods and concluded that the common belief around coffee capsules being major pollutants is a major misconception. On the contrary, the pods turned out to be the most environmentally friendly option compared to alternatives like the conventional drip filter. Another study conducted in Switzerland by Quantis (a leading consulting firm specialized in sustainability) and commissioned by Nespresso found that coffee capsules’ impact on the environment (measured by CO2 footprint in multiple stages) is less than that of other coffee preparation methods inspected in the study such as drip filter, the moka (Italian) coffee maker, and fully automated options.

It’s obvious to see how coffee capsules are better than their counterparts. Because they come in strict sizes, they optimize the amounts of dry ingredients and energy consumption used and minimize the leakages triggered by mistakes and overheating. 

If the EU Commission truly cares about consumer well-being and pollution, it should therefore drop the proposed regulations on coffee pods and respect people’s various preferences in coffee. Consumer choice is, as always, the best course of action.

This blog post was written by the CCC intern Amjad Aun.

Why We Need Acquisitions and Why Khan’s Concerns are Bad for Business

Namesakes of the 90s are seeing better days as Bed Bath & Beyond and David’s Bridal file for bankruptcy, joining the likes of Blockbuster and RadioShack. Each of these big box stores were big business in their heyday, and serve as a reminder that even the best can go bust in a dynamic marketplace.

Incumbent firms are prone to fall victim to the replacement effect, whereas opportunities for innovations are deemphasized so as to maintain the status quo. A great example of this is Kodak’s reluctance to embrace digital photography.

For firms to have staying power, they must be alert to changing market needs and pivot according to changing realities. Sometimes this can be done through the scaling of assets and resources by means of a merger. A current example of this is the proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger, which aims to create a premier omnichannel sales network for not only groceries but also healthcare and pharmaceutical needs. Through the joining of existing retail units, the merger would establish a national footprint for Kroger and enable it to capitalize on the growing trend of retail media marketing as well as compete with industry giants like Walmart and Costco. 

Accordingly, one might think the FTC would welcome the merger, given that Walmart has long been lambasted for its behemoth status without a worthy adversary when it comes to sales of groceries. Yet the FTC is reluctant to allow the transaction.

Currently, the FTC is ramping up its review of all things merger and acquisition related, including even past deals – to the dismay of Big Tech firms. 

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The UK to Handout a Million Vape Starter Kits to Smokers Seeking to Quit

The Ministry of Health will be giving out the kits as part of a new anti-smoking drive which includes plans for a crackdown on illicit vape sales. 

While official UK public health groups such as Public Health England (PHE) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) keep assuring that there is no teen vaping epidemic while arguing in favour of the benefits of vapes for smoking cessation, the Guardian has just released an article claiming that teen vaping is a “public health catastrophe.”

“I am concerned that we are sleepwalking into a public health catastrophe with a generation of children hooked on nicotine,” said Prof. Andrew Bush, a consultant paediatric chest physician at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, as quoted by the Guardian. The article went on to quote a number of parents who are voicing their concerns about their children’s vaping habits.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) cited a 2021 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report, which examined vaping behaviours among youths in the UK, and found that an overwhelming majority (83%) of teens and pre-teens aged between 11 and 18, have never tried or even heard of e-cigarettes. This finding has remained consistent since 2017.

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