On the 27th of November, the Swiss electorate voted on the popular initiative “For an orderly withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme (Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative)” .
Popular Initiative “For an orderly withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme (Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative)”
Switzerland has five nuclear power stations. They produce around 40 per cent of Switzerland’s electricity. All these nuclear power stations have open-ended operating licences. They can therefore continue to operate for as long as they are safe. In its 2050 Energy Strategy, the Federal Council proposed a gradual withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme: this strategy envisages that the existing nuclear power stations, once decommissioned, will not be replaced by new ones, and that no additional nuclear power stations will be built.
What is the aim of the initiative?
The initiative also aims to prohibit the construction of new nuclear power stations. It further demands that a limit be placed on the operational lives of the existing nuclear power stations: if the initiative is approved, then the nuclear power stations Mühleberg and Beznau 1 and 2 will have to be closed in 2017, Gösgen in 2024 and Leibstadt in 2029. The initiative also demands that the federal government direct its energy policy towards less consumption, more energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
The view taken by the Federal Council and Parliament
The Federal Council and Parliament reject the initiative, because it would lead to the premature closure of Switzerland’s nuclear power stations. The reduction in electricity output could not be compensated quickly enough by electricity generated from renewable sources. This would mean that Switzerland would have to import a large amount of electricity in the coming years. This would undermine the security of supply and would not make ecological sense, because foreign electricity is often produced by coal-fired power stations. Premature decommissioning would also mean that nuclear power station operators could claim compensation from the Confederation, and thus from the taxpayer, for investments made based on the expectation that the present arrangement will continue. The Federal Council is committed to a gradual withdrawal from the nuclear energy programme, thereby giving Switzerland sufficient time to restructure its energy supply system.
Who is entitled to vote? Where and how to vote?
Everything you need to know about voting in Switzerland:
Last modification 27.11.2016