Energy and environmental policy – under one roof in the UVEK – in reality in competition – News


If Switzerland continues as before, it will not achieve the energy transition and will miss the climate targets. In order to speed up the expansion of climate-friendly energies, the Federal Council proposes identifying the most important wind and hydropower projects and bringing them to construction maturity in a coordinated manner in a shortened process. In the consultation, however, everyone sees potential for improvement and it shows once again – energy supply and environmental protection are opposed to each other.

The clock is ticking

Security of supply, especially in winter, has come into focus and the Ukraine war shows that Switzerland cannot rely on gas imports – which Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga outlined as a fallback scenario.

The clock is also ticking when it comes to climate protection – temperatures are rising and extreme weather is increasing worldwide. The climate crisis is leaving its mark and calls for swift action.

Blocked Projects

So far, the different interests of business, politics and the environment have slowed down faster action and blocked individual projects for decades.

On paper, climate policy, secure energy supply and environmental protection go hand in hand. The Federal Offices for the Environment, Transport and Energy are also under one roof at the federal level – in the department of SP Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga.

Energy and environment at odds?

The political left also sees it this way: climate, energy and environmental issues complement each other. This is what the SP, the Greens and the Environment Alliance say in the consultation on the accelerated procedure: The expansion of renewable energies should not be at the expense of the environment.

But this idea is already crumbling from the political center: The center party, FDP and SVP see environmental protection and landscape protection as a brake. So they’re willing to relax regulations and know the power companies and the economy have their backs.

Compromises are necessary

The positions are marked out. They are already showing how difficult it will be to achieve the energy transition more quickly. In the dilemma between security of supply, nature and landscape protection, compromises are needed from everyone.

In the case of hydropower, Energy and Environment Minister Sommaruga succeeded with a round table. That may be a beginning and an example. However, it is far from enough to achieve the energy transition and Switzerland’s climate goals.

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