Last April, I got snagged by what turned out to be an April Fools Day hoax. I linked it on April 5th, the byline stated April 3rd, but it had been originally published – as a joke – on the 1st. Only now, less than a year later, it is no longer a joke. The hoax was that outdoor barbecues had been banned – or rather taxed heavily – out of concern for global warming. But it isn't funny any longer, folks. The EU is debating banning outdoor propane heaters right now.
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.
But the proposal has been attacked by publicans, who say bars and pubs need the heaters for customers driven outside by smoking bans.
The trade has invested £86.5 million in heaters over the past 12 months and a ban could cost pubs, cafés and restaurants an estimated £250 million a year in lost business.
Oddly enough, one of the members of the UN Convention on Climate Change is saying that Fiona Hall is completely wrong in her quest:
"The overall impact of outdoor heaters on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions is very minimal," said Dr Eric Johnson, of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Who's laughing now? While the joke worked because it was believable, now that reality has caught up, what will they do next April?