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Risk analysis Power shortage, pandemic seen as greatest risks to Switzerland

A power shortage of 30% during the winter months poses the greatest risk to the country

(Keystone)


In its 2015 risk analysis report, the Swiss government has named an electricity shortage as the biggest risk facing the country, followed by a pandemic and a heat wave.

The report, issued by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), cites the risk of a widespread power shortage due to a possible general electricity shortage of 30% during winter months. Such a scenario, the FOCP said, would lead to more than –CHF 100 billion ($105 billion) in damages to individuals and the economy.

The rest of the top ten risks the FOCP believes Switzerland could face include:

2. A pandemic

3. A heat wave

4. An earthquake

5. A regional power shortage

6. A storm

7. A telecommunications failure

8. A wave of refugees

9. A plane crash

10. A disease outbreak among animals

In its analysis, the FOCP explained that the risks of a pandemic is nearly equal to that of a widespread power shortage, likely costing between CHF70 and 80 billion. And a heat wave, which, according to the study, occurs on average once every 20 years, and which Switzerland is currently experiencing, can also have a significant effect on the general population.

When it comes to earthquakes, the costs can skyrocket to more than CHF100 billion, but such an event is only likely to happen every 1200 years. The last major earthquake to hit Switzerland was in Basel in 1356. Today, a similar event would cost about CHF80 billion in damages, the FOCP estimated.

Regarding the influx of refugees, the FOCP writes that “Switzerland could confront a significant humanitarian problem whose management would represent a huge challenge. Even if this is not considered a danger in the classic sense, the consequences of such an event can be weighed in the same manner as a risk”.

The FOCP report added that any studies and analyses done regarding a large influx of refugees or asylum seekers can also serve to inform a large-scale evacuation of Switzerland.

As for a catastrophe at a nuclear plant, the report estimated such an event would cost between CHF30 and 40 billion. But, said the FOCP, “given the current safety standards in Switzerland, the probability of occurrence of a serious accident in a nuclear power plant is very low”.

In total, the risk analysis examined 33 possible events and weighed their possible influence on Switzerland. Others include drought, invasive species, forest fires, solar flares, floods and cyber attacks.

The FOCP’s report was carried out by developing and analysing various scenarios for each of the 33 hazards studied, and weighing their economic impact. In this way, taking into account the probability of occurrence, researchers were able to determine which risks are most likely to have widespread effects on the population.

Such a risk analysis report is published every three years in Switzerland, with individual cantons also regularly carrying out their own analyses.

 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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