Bourgeois councils of states fail with attack on nature conservation
Less nature and animal protection, but more energy from renewable energies. In the end, the Council of States clearly rejected this radical demand from its own ranks.
The Council of States is normally an expeditious council. But the discussion on the federal law on a secure power supply with renewable energies lasted and lasted. There was even a suggestion to keep the lunch break a little shorter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible because the responsible Federal Councilor, Simonetta Sommaruga, still had to attend a National Council committee meeting. Topic there: Also renewable energy.
The primary aim here is for Switzerland to become less dependent on foreign electricity as quickly as possible. The conflict in Ukraine and the associated threat of energy shortages show how important this is. The parties agree so far. In order to push the expansion, the ladies and gentlemen of the Council of States then also wrote into law significantly higher target values for electricity production from renewable energies on Thursday. By 2035 – with the exception of hydropower – it must be 35 terawatt hours, by 2050 at least 45. The Federal Council had proposed 17 terawatt hours by 2035 and 39 by 2050.
The explosives article
But then the unity is already over. The main argument in the Council of States was nature conservation. Several civic representatives wanted to take advantage of the energy hour for numerous relaxations in nature and animal protection. Beat Rieder (Centre/VS) explained that these steps are necessary on behalf of the Commission, otherwise the energy targets could not be achieved at all. Roberto Zanetti (SP/SO), on the other hand, spoke of a “clearly unconstitutional” application. It violates agreements, is a provocation and offers enough explosives to detonate the entire template.
The TNT of the Energy Act is called Article 2a. Or better: called. In the end, the small chamber prevented the enforcement of environmental regulations from being subordinated to measures to meet energy targets by a clear majority. In other words, it would have been much easier to build plants for renewable energy. And more water could have been taken from the rivers to generate energy. Ruedi Noser (FDP/ZH) explained that the rules here are too strict and that with climate change more rivers will soon carry less water. For Zanetti, this reasoning is “suicide for fear of death”. Many fish are particularly endangered if more water can be used.
Holy Cow: Federal Constitution
Especially in the morning of the long debate, the supporters of the explosives article still seemed very confident. The fact that this has not yet ignited is less due to the animal or natural well-being than to a sacred cow: the Federal Constitution. For several Councils of States, the new passage violates this – among other things because there is no urgency because the shortage does not yet exist. Thierry Burkart (FDP/AG), for example, explained this.
Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga said the Commission wanted to take a “radical step”. She warned the “Chambre de Réflexion” against leaving behind a pile of shards that would have to be cleaned up by the National Council afterwards. Sommaruga felt that the proponents wanted to go far too far, pretending that the other side wasn’t moving. This impression is wrong, said Sommaruga in an urgent vote. She, too, doubted the validity of the constitution.
The Council of States will not finish the bill on Thursday. The debate will continue in a week. Only then does it come to the National Council. After the clear result in the Council of States, it is more than questionable whether another attempt will be made there for a similar article.