Netflix and ironing bans: Switzerland's last-stand energy plan explained
At a press conference on November 23, the Swiss government revealed more details regarding the country’s plan for energy shortages this winter. The measures, which will be implemented if all other policies fail, include restrictions on electric cars and a ban on Netflix. Here’s what you need to know:
People in Switzerland told to save, save, save energy
At the press conference, Economics Minister Guy Parmelin told reporters that while the threat of an energy shortage in Switzerland has declined in recent months, there is still a significant risk. He explained that the new raft of measures can be prevented if residents and businesses “save, save, save” energy.
The Federal Council explained that the following measures would be implemented if Switzerland faces a severe energy shortage, the government's voluntary energy-saving plan proves ineffective and the softer restrictions announced last week fail.
Last-ditch campaign to save energy in Switzerland
If previous plans fail, the government would call for a last-ditch effort, asking people to save energy in any way possible. If this doesn’t work, energy restrictions and bans - which were announced in principle in August - would be used to curtail energy usage, along with power rationing for entrepreneurs and international companies.
The bans for residents would be implemented in four steps. First, the use of seat heaters and electric leaf blowers would be banned and washing machines would be restricted to 40 degrees Celsius. Second, shop window lighting, and the use of tumble dryers and irons would be banned to help save energy.
Netflix and ski resorts restricted in Switzerland's energy crisis plan
If Switzerland still needs to save power, restrictions on the internet, like banning the use of streaming services such as Netflix, would be enacted. Rooms heated by electricity or heat pumps would only be allowed to be heated to 18 degrees - although a 20-degree limit for gas-heated houses would remain. The government would also restrict the use of electric cars to "absolutely necessary journeys,” and a general speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour on Swiss motorways would be implemented.
Finally, if all else fails, the Federal Council announced that they will close Swiss ski resorts. Cinemas, theatres, concerts and sporting events will also be banned if they use any electricity.
Measures designed to cushion Swiss economy, says minister
Parmelin noted that the measures are designed to have as little impact on the Swiss economy as possible, with hotels still able to heat their rooms above 20 degrees, and whirlpools, saunas and solariums remaining open for up to seven hours a day. Despite this, he said that the energy quota system planned for companies would still affect 34.000 businesses.
All the measures will be controlled by Swiss cantons, but Parmelin conceded that many of the policies will be near impossible to enforce, as authorities' control over the bans would be “very limited.” Instead, he said he hoped the population would follow the rules, without the threat of bans and fines.
Blackouts planned in Switzerland if all else fails
In concluding the press conference, Parmelin said that while the measures announced seem harsh, they all serve to prevent a final step from being made. If all the measures announced fail, the Federal Council confirmed that they would have no choice but to implement rolling blackouts across the country.
For more information about the plan, please consult the official website or watch the official press conference (in German and French).