Switzerland on the brink of a terrible climate mistake

Swiss Greens have initiated a national referendum that would be about as bad a move for Climate Change as one can possibly imagine on any national scale. They are proposing an early shutdown of the current fleet and an eternal ban on anything nuclear power in Switzerland.
Swiss have one of the cleanest electricity in the World. And that is largely thanks to nuclear. In fact, nearly all the countries in the world that actually have clean electricity have done it largely or partly with nuclear. And now the local Green party wants to shut it down forever, flushing down any hopes of effective and timely climate mitigation in accordance to the Paris Agreement.
I thought these were the people FOR Climate Change mitigation, not against it?!
This sort of foolishness and deep irresponsibility makes me want to move to Switzerland just to get a vote on the matter.
Energy for Humanity is campaigning for effective climate action everywhere, including Switzerland. Say no to nuclear shutdown. Please.

6 thoughts on “Switzerland on the brink of a terrible climate mistake

  1. Reblogged this on Kaikenhuipun blogi and commented:

    The Swiss people are voting if they are going to have a climate mitigation effort or not. If they choose to close all nuclear power prematurely and ban any new builds, they are basically saying yes to much more emissions.


  2. Talking about nuclear energy as clean is the most cynical misuse of the word ”clean” that I have ever seen.
    Nothing could be wronger. Just because you don’t see something does not mean it is not there. The radiation can be measured, and it’s effects are deadly, and ”contagious”: Some irradiated materials will radiate themselves after being irradiated long enough.
    The use of radioactive material contributes to the contamination of previously ”clean” areas, and the risk of radioactive smudging is high.
    Finally, the problem of long-lasting radioactive waste is absolutely not solved.
    And I haven’t even mentioned the risk of nuclear meltdown, which has occurred several times since the use of nuclear power.


    1. Yes, radiation can be measured. And as we have done so, we know that only a very small fraction (in the neighborhood of one percent if I remember correctly) of radiation in the environment comes from nuclear power plants or the waste.

      When that is added to the other fact that only a very small portion of cancers are caused by any radiation (of which grand majority is natural background radiation) anyway, we can conclude that actual health effects or environmental effects of nuclear power are minuscule. (so not that deadly or contagious – but quite small in the grand scheme of things). Indeed, when radiotherapy and other mediacal treatments that use radiation are accounted for, radioactivity on the whole has saved and prolonged countless millions of lives on the net.

      That is, of course, the exact conclusion that major studies on the matter have come to. Nuclear power is the safest way to produce energy we currently have.

      In addition, it is one of the only industries that actually collect and store their waste for the most part. Usually (and this includes, disappointingly, manufacturing of solar panels for example) industries and energy production use the environment as their dumping ground.

      Finally: The problem of long lasting radioactive waste is a political problem. There are multiple safe ways to store or dispose of it, but given that people and politicians usually start screaming when someone says ”nuclear waste” we have not yet reached a decision on what to do (among the many reasonably ok choices) with the waste. Except in Finland (and Sweden) where that problem has been solved also politically (we are constructing a geological deposit).

      Meltdowns have occurred, yes. We need to ask ”What then?” and not leave the question hanging like ”I have not even mentioned the meltdown…”. Please, do mention them, and we can discuss ”So what then?” How dangerous have they been? How many have died and will die? Compared to other energy production? The fact is that even with them and the waste and other hazards that can be imagined, on the whole, nuclear is our safest way to produce energy. I know this is hard to grasp, but it is a statistical fact.

      ps. I have written two books on the subject. ”Climate Gamble” is also available in English. I encourage you to read it with an open (and of course healthily skeptical) mind.


  3. In my opinion, being ”clean” means to not release any harmful substances into the environment. Nuclear power fulfills this requirement: Nuclear waste is minuscule and contained. And future reactors will be able to use 96 % of the long-lived, high-level ”waste” as fuel – for even more decades and centuries of clean energy.

    Try that with coal or natural gas! However, if the Swiss voters accept the referendum, they’d do just that with German electricty imports from coal. Well, at least as long as southern Germany still has an electricity surplus, which will only be the case for two to six years. After that, the Swiss people could try to save some energy. In fact, they’d have to.


  4. 1: When is the referendum?

    2: How large is the projected rise in emissions? Switzerland seems to emit <10g/kWh right now. Is there enough hydro for carbon effifient transition, or do they nees a lot of gas as a backup? Thanks.


    1. 1. I think it was this week (27th Nov keeps popping to my mind). Anyway, it is by the end of November.

      2. That is impossible to say, as one has to make assumptions. Basically, lost production is made up by marginal production (the most next cheapest available in the market) at least until new investments are made, and that marginal production is normally coal or other fossil fuel based production.
      If we trust in the Emissions Trading Scheme and ASSUME that the availability of clean production capacity (or dependency of fossil fuels) has no effect on whether we can or cannot for example nullify emissions rights from the system or increase emissions prices somehow politically, then it has no effect: ETS takes care that certain amount of emissions will be released in the area it covers, so national policies banning or subsidizing any given production have no effect on the whole (and can only increase the inefficiency of the market based system).

      On the other hand, policy will follow what is possible, so the more clean production we have available now or in the future, the easier it is for us to for example cut the total amounts of ETS emissions to a level agreed when we signed the Paris Climate treaty.



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