Event: Energy Lab

(Zurich, May 10, 2016). Our first Lab presented the resource discussion in the context of the Paris Climate Agreement. It proposes that global warming should never exceed 2 degrees above the preindustrial levels, if possible no even 1.5 degrees. If the agreement of 2015 is taken seriously, rapid and comprehensive measures to reduce CO2 emissions are needed. This includes a full exit from fossil energy before 2050. Today, Switzerland can only produce a fraction of its energy renewably and domestically. Hydropower covers 40 percent of electrical consumption or nine percent of total energy consumption, wood a further five percent. With an exit from fossil energy, the future of mobility would be mainly electric, which dramatically increases the share of electricity in total energy consumption. Scientific studies such as those of Prof. Anton Gunzinger and Prof. François Cellier from ETH Zurich show that the discrepancy between what a sustainable Switzerland needs and what current energy plans provide is large. However, it is also clear that renewable energy strategies are technically and financially feasible and even economically advantageous. The politician and energy expert Rudolf Rechsteiner (SP) and the Swiss Cleantech business association confirmed these perspectives in the Energy Lab.

Most participants recognized the need for rapid change in the energy sector. However, they were frustrated with the slow progress of the political debate, despite the rapid advances in technology – particularly photovoltaics. Many emphasized that appeals to reduce and sacrifice produce more resistance than enthusiasm. We need positive and engaging messages. They underlined the importance of good examples of sustainable lifestyle styles. Most participants agreed that energy and resource discussions should emphasize the  benefits of the needed energy transformation. A climate-friendly energy supply for Switzerland is technically possible. In addition, such a transformation promotes Swiss innovation and competitiveness and generates financial benefits for the national economy. But there was doubt as to whether the change would take place fast enough. For this, political will is needed.

Read more here (in German):


This event was supported by Stiftung Mercator Schweiz and Paul Schiller Stiftung. It was made possible through the collaboration with various organizations, including WWF Schweiz,  2000 Watt Gesellschaft, World Trade Institute, Sun 21, Praneo, YK Center, and Swiss Cleantech.

We would like to thank Emmanuel Winkler, Karin Hess, Tony Gunzinger, François Cellier, Christian Zeyer, Elisabeth Stern, Bruno Oberle,  Roland Stulz and Thomas Zweifel for their productive collaboration and support in in designing and delivering the programme for the event.