Government launches campaign for energy levy
The federal authorities have launched a campaign to win support for a levy to fund renewable energy. At a news conference in Berne, they warned that a rejection of the proposals could jeopardise efforts to save energy and stabilise fuel consumption.
The government launched its campaign ahead of a nationwide vote in September, which will decide the future direction of Switzerland's energy policy.
Swiss voters will be called upon to approve a new tax on fossil fuels (oil, petrol, gas) and nuclear energy. They will also have to decide how the proceeds should be used. The options include: investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar energy; promoting energy efficiency; and using the money for social insurance.
The business community is strongly opposed to the proposals, and has launched a counter campaign. It says the new measures would be a hindrance and would lead to higher energy costs, if implemented.
In response, the federal authorities point to the positive impact of the "Energy 2000 Action Plan". Introduced in 1991, it is considered the core of Swiss energy policy. The government says it helped to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, triggered investment in environmentally friendly energy production methods and helped create new jobs.
Energy 2000 is based on voluntary and legal measures, as well as dialogue in so-called conflict-solving groups, which were specially created to reconcile the different groups involved. The programme is due to run out at the end of the year, though, hence the need for a follow-up policy.
The Federal Energy Office said it was important that the new programme have access to more funds. Hans-Luzius Schmid, deputy-director of the Office, said that, while Energy 2000 had achieved most of its objectives, it had failed to stabilise energy consumption.
He said its successor programme needed more funds than the current annual budget of SFr53 million. He also suggested that more compulsory measures could be introduced.
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