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Energy charter

The development of efficient and renewable energies is as important for the security and prosperity of our society as for the protection of the environment and our natural resources.  For most countries, reducing fossil energy consumption means reducing the amount of currency sent abroad, and improving the balance of trade, so as to create jobs and wealth locally. 

 

The laws of the market will not by themselves achieve this goal. This positive development needs to be kept on track by a legal framework, and the authorities must be encouraged to enact the necessary measures. Without this, nothing will happen, because everybody will wait for someone else to make the first move.

Energy Charter

As its first political action, Solar Impulse has drawn up an Energy Charter for Switzerland, and has agreed to publish press announcements supporting candidates for federal elections who sign up to the Charter.

Candidates have been identified in each of the political parties who are prepared to commit themselves to an ambitious, but essential energy policy and who are convinced that it is necessary to:

  • Deal with energy questions outside the usual left v. right political divide;
  • Give priority to the goal of reducing overall energy consumption, rather than restricting attention to questions of CO2;
  • Support economic activity by promoting clean technology (“Clean Tech”);
  • Replace the output of the five Swiss nuclear power stations by 2034 through energy savings and renewable energy sources;
  • Create a legal framework to avoid energy wastage, and promote the availability on the market of clean technologies that allow for higher energy efficiency.

 

If we really support those who commit themselves in this way, all the candidates and all the parties will eventually be obliged to include energy policy measures in their electoral manifestos. Today, we have a unique opportunity to push them in this direction.

No less than 541 candidates - of whom 76 are already sitting in one of the two parliamentary assemblies - have committed, if elected, to voting for the following:

ENERGY SAVING MEASURES:

Introduction of a legal framework which will allow Switzerland to reduce its fossil energy consumption by at least 40% by 2034, and 70% by 2050, featuring in particular:

  • Active promotion of a “zero non-renewable energy” norm for new buildings;
  • Reinforcement of measures to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings;
  • Reinforcement of energy efficiency measures;
  • Progressive replacement of old energy-intensive technologies, with clean technologies;

 

PRODUCTION OF RENEWABLE ENERGIES

  • Produce at least 30% of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, and 70% by 2050;
  • Adjust cost-covering remuneration (for feed-in to the electricity grid) to achieve these targets;

 

GOVERNMENTAL MATTERS

  • Election of a majority of Federal Councilors who have clearly committed to upholding all the elements in this Charter.

On 6 February at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Swiss Confederation, presented the report on sustainable development written by a panel of heads of state at the behest of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Aware of the very clear message from Solar Impulse in favour of technologies that can reduce our dependency on fossil energy, she had asked Bertrand to speak alongside her.

For him this was an opportunity to bring up the story about an exchange with his meteorologists during his round-the-world balloon trip and ...

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Aware of the very clear message from Solar Impulse in favour of technologies that can reduce our dependency on fossil energy, she had asked Bertrand to speak alongside her.

For him this was an opportunity to bring up the story about an exchange with his meteorologists during his round-the-world balloon trip and which describes so well the question of sustainability and the long-term vision. Very pleased with himself at having found an altitude where the winds were pushing him twice as fast as the team's calculations had suggested, his advisors replied ironically: "Do you prefer to fly very quickly in the wrong direction or more slowly in the right one?". "This is the question that governments should be asking now given the speed at which humanity is moving towards massive public debt, the depletion of natural resources and the pollution of our environment."

As Bertrand pointed out: "Today's pioneers should not limit themselves to being explorers who walk on the moon or who do trips round the world; they should be heads of state resolved to meet the even more ambitious challenge of improving the quality of life on this planet.

The report ends with a list of practical recommendations for governments and international institutions, such as the need to remove the many subsidies still given to fossil energy and to include the environmental costs in the prices of all products. "Lastly an official stance that a legal framework is essential to change certain types of behaviour", say Bertrand and André happy to have included this subject in their Energy Charter last year.

On 26 September last, Solar Impulse and swisscleantech joined forces to write the Energy Charter which was put to all candidates seeking election to the Swiss Parliament.

More than 500 candidates (or 15% of those seeking election) from all parties signed it, and in doing so committed themselves if elected to voting for measures aimed at promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.

After the elections it turned out that 30% of those elected had signed the Energy Charter. From ...

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More than 500 candidates (or 15% of those seeking election) from all parties signed it, and in doing so committed themselves if elected to voting for measures aimed at promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.

After the elections it turned out that 30% of those elected had signed the Energy Charter. From this we can draw the conclusion that candidates who signed it had twice as much chance of being elected :). It also suggests that these questions of renewable energy are central among voters' concerns!

Today, the action continues since many other members of parliament who have studied the issue have now told us that they want to sign the Charter. This approach encourages politicians to treat energy issues on a non-party basis. By signing it, they undertake personally to vote for measures seeking to achieve clearly defined aims:

  • On energy saving: to introduce a legal framework that allows Switzerland to cut its fossil fuel consumption by at least 40% by 2034 and 70% by 2050
  • On renewable energy: to generate at least 30% of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and 70% by 2050

Our aim is to get more than 50% of MPs to sign the Charter!

The list of signatories is updated regularly. Click here!

"André and I have just spent 3 days in China presenting Solar Impulse"

"And what did we learn? That the Chinese authorities have decided to up the sales prices of the most polluting large cars by ...

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"And what did we learn? That the Chinese authorities have decided to up the sales prices of the most polluting large cars by 50% so as to eradicate them in the long term. And what did we see in the most popular districts of Shanghai? A majority of electric scooters! Do we need to wait to be invaded by the Chinese to have a consistent environmental policy in our home countries also?"

"I met Bill Clinton once again this week-end, with the same pleasure as in Washington after my round-the-world balloon trip and at the WEF in Davos a bit later."

"For him, the only valid economic relaunch programme is to insulate buildings, increase the country's energy efficiency and ...

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"For him, the only valid economic relaunch programme is to insulate buildings, increase the country's energy efficiency and build renewable energy production infrastructures. Lowering the energy bill in this way would be the best way of increasing the population's purchasing power.

If even the Americans are saying this, how is it that Switzerland is once again missing the boat with a miserable pretence of a program unveiled last week, which has been pilloried by the entire press?"