In the press room of the media center of the Federal Palace on Wednesday floated a strange feeling of deja vu. A return to the recent past, when our days were punctuated by announcements of covid infections and the resulting restriction measures. Except that it was no longer a question of a pandemic, but of the “first global energy crisis, with Europe as the epicenter”.
These remarks were made by Benoît Revaz, director of the Federal Office of Energy. Neither Simonetta Sommaruga, the Federal Councilor on the front line on this file, nor Guy Parmelin, in charge of the Economy, made the trip. Under the federal dome, it is the sacrosanct Sommerpause.
Civil servants sent to the front
It was therefore up to a battalion of civil servants and experts to present the system put in place to deal with a winter during which electricity and gas could well be lacking. The population will be called upon to discipline themselves, even to give up using saunas and other jacuzzis. Depending on the severity of the situation – subject to weather conditions and Russian gas deliveries – power will be cut for a few hours and companies will face energy quotas.
Necessary behavioral changes
While the war in Ukraine has been fueling an energy situation that was already tense for some time, the strange timetable chosen to formalize measures already in the air for weeks is a challenge. The administration and the Federal Council have undoubtedly been agitating for months behind the scenes in the face of the looming shortages. But so far, they have not taken the trouble to establish a dialogue with citizens, however essential, to encourage them to change their consumption habits. No nice little pictograms to encourage people to take public transport, to give up air conditioning or to space out their showers.
An operation will be launched at the end of August. Finally! Because Germany has taken the lead for a long time with some success. According to one of the speakers at Wednesday’s press briefing, in the face of soaring prices, consumption has fallen, while it has stagnated in Switzerland. While the climate emergency is remembered more than ever by us, not having been able to seize immediately a unique opportunity to prepare for a complicated winter is regrettable. What is even more so is that the energy sobriety it requires aligns perfectly with the duties that await Switzerland if it wants to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. In summary, a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.