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David Cameron promotes a switch to "green" energy sources
High-powered personal computers and other electronics under close scrutiny for the UK's carbon dioxide crunch

The United Kingdom has a problem. Although it signed the Kyoto Protocol proposed by the United Nations, it -- like every other nation country which did -- has been wholly unable to meet treaty commitments, and has actually been increasing CO2 emissions faster than the non-signatories like the United States.

Embarrassing ... but what to do about it? Pass more laws, of course.

To that end, a new plan is recommending sweeping new changes to force residents to reduce electricity consumption. Tops on the list? A ban on new sales of plasma televisions. Surprisingly enough, the plan comes not from the Labour or Liberal Democratic parties, but from a group organized by Conservative Party Leader David Cameron.

While plasma TVs are especially singled out, the plan also targets all items that use over an arbitrary level of electricity, including high-performance personal computers and some household appliances. Additionally, the report recommends banning the "standby" functionality on consumer electronics, which allows them to be quickly turned on by remote control. Some 2% of the island nation's electric usage is thought to be due to standby equipment power draws.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already announced his ambition to eliminate the stand-by function on all appliances sold in the country, claiming it was part of British responsibility to "protect the environment."

Critics of the plan claim it will simply create a "grey market", where those with money will continue to be able to purchase banned items at higher prices.  But former Environment Secretary and plan chairman John Gummer says, "The imperative of global warming demands that we change [our approach] utterly - not just governments, but businesses, groups and individuals."

Even with the plan implemented, the United Kingdom is not expected to meet Kyoto Protocol commitments.  No word yet on what next will hit the ban list.

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By Oregonian2 on 9/10/2007 8:11:43 PM , Rating: 3
You know of course that disallowing standby modes on things will just lead to folk leaving things turned on all the time. I'll bet that enough folk would leave things turned on all the time to more than compensate for those who turn things off and that the net power usage would be significantly increased. I'll also bet that even those who proposed it know this to be true too but that they're doing it to look good and it's a posturing thing of some sort.

RE: interesting...
By Ringold on 9/11/2007 1:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
Lets look on the bright side.

Once all these draconian laws come to pass, where a VCR with a stand-by mode becomes as big a social taboo as cocaine, there is going to be money to be made by those smart enough to import these black, dastardly, polar-bear killing electronic death machines from countries that never did and never will give a damn and servicing the black underworld market of.. dare I say it.. convenient electronic goods!

Imagine it. Budding young capitalists in the first world cutting their small-business teeth by receiving an unmarked shipment from Taiwan, loading up their government issued electric scooter, and heading across town to where the elite upper crust lives and delivering their shameful quad-layer HD-DVD players to their back door, taking cash as anonymous payment. One generation delivers news papers as a kid, the next, carbon dope. Almost enough to bring a tear of joy to my eye from a cold, smog-filled heart.

RE: interesting...
By Keeir on 9/11/2007 5:14:57 PM , Rating: 2
Since M. Asher did not directly link to the proposal, I can't comment on the exact form of standby that the proposal suggests banning. I may guess that this address the "fake-off" standby problem where turning something "off" doesn't turn the item off at all as in no electric draw or even reduced (significantly) electric draw. This potentially could significantly reduce electricity consumpstion (0.X%) if people knew when items were drawing power and when items were not drawing power. IE, I have alot of electric devices on a single power strip that I can completely cut the power too easily. I almost always ensure I do so before I go to bed at night(since why the heck do I need my TV/Tivo to be instant on when I am at work?).

Some numbers 65 Watts (estimated power consumption in standby) over 18 hours over 250 days a year * .10 cents per KW/h adds up to only $29.50 dollars saved... but thats 29.50 would have returned me almost no benifit

RE: interesting...
By TomZ on 9/11/2007 5:46:16 PM , Rating: 3
While it's true that standby mode does waste power, the solution is to drive device manufacturers towards lower power consumption. For example, pass a labeling law that states that all devices are required to disclose their standby power so that consumers can compare them. This approach is already used in other areas, e.g., electric appliances, to help consumers understand the power consumption and cost.

On the engineering side, there's a lot that can be done in the typical device to reduce standby power. For example, replacing transformer-based cell phone chargers with smarter circuits that cut input power consumption when the phone is not plugged in. They would cost a little more, but maybe consumers would think it is worth it?

RE: interesting...
By Keeir on 9/11/2007 10:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
For example, pass a labeling law that states that all devices are required to disclose their standby power so that consumers can compare them.

Yes, that is probably the "best" solution in that it will be the most effective without removing choice. But without reading the actual text of the "ban" mentioned by M. Asher, I can't know if its an actual out and out ban, or a ban on calling this high-power standby as an "off" state.

RE: interesting...
By dever on 9/12/2007 2:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
Even better than a "law" would be third party, private enterprises that reviewed products and gave ratings. If a good rating was given, manufacturer's could license the use of the rating for their product packaging and marketing.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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