UCF Global Perspectives

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Switzerland Debates Energy Future

Alex Gañán, Intern, Environment and Global Climate Change

October 13, 2016

Although the Swiss government announced its intention to shift away from nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Energy Minister Doris Leuthard seeks to avoid a premature withdrawal. This is a response to an initiative promoted by the Green Party and Greenpeace. Their plan calls for the immediate shutdown of three reactors next year, with the remaining two to be phased out in 2024 and 2029. Leuthard contends that such a plan would jeopardize Swiss energy security by increasing its reliance on German energy and force taxpayers to remunerate utility companies (Reuters 1). Instead, she has promoted the current government’s Energy Strategy 2050 program, which bans the construction of new nuclear plants while encouraging the development of renewable sources to replace existing facilities (Reuters 2).

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the plan has been criticized from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which currently holds a majority in parliament. The SVP seeks to abandon the plan and retain the country’s nuclear plants via referendum (Reuters 2). An SVP spokesperson called Energy Strategy 2050 a “massive intrusion on every corner of citizens’ lives,” and a burden on future generations (Reuters 1). Support for the referendum extends beyond the party, with firms such as GastroSuisse, Auto Schweiz, and Swissmem publicly backing it. However, the two largest employer’s associations in Switzerland, Economiesuisse and the Swiss Commercial Association, have backed away from their initial support for a referendum (Tages Anzeiger).

 

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-nuclearpower-idUSKCN12B0LU http://uk.reuters.com/article/swiss-nuclearpower-idUKL8N1CI3PU http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/schweiz/standard/svp-ergreift-referendum-gegen-energiestrategie-2050/story/14846130


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