Against the impending energy crisis – the Federal Council is flying blind in the austerity campaign – News

Against the impending energy crisis – the Federal Council is flying blind in the austerity campaign – News
Against the impending energy crisis – the Federal Council is flying blind in the austerity campaign – News


An analysis by Urs Leuthard

Today’s media conference on the Federal Council’s energy saving campaign gave the interested public a number of déjà vus from the pandemic period. Dramatic appeals again warn of the escalation (“livelihoods are at stake”, “social peace and cohesion is at risk”), catchy slogans are again advertised (“Every kilowatt hour counts” instead of “stay at home”), posters, flyers and advertisements calling for the solidarity of the population will be presented again: previously with vaccination and protective measures, now with voluntary energy saving.

And again, the consensus among the various parties involved is amazing: while in the first wave of the pandemic all (!) parties assured the Federal Council of their support in a joint media statement, business associations, cantons and industry representatives were on site today to support the austerity appeals.

The big difference: With Corona, the appeals and slogans came when the pandemic was already there. The current energy crisis is about preventing a possible shortage from arising in the first place in order to avoid the worst effects, such as quotas or shutdowns. The Federal Council calls on the population to save as much energy as possible when heating, showering, lighting or washing dishes.

Possible savings target fails due to measurability

However, Federal Councilor Sommaruga and colleague Parmelin were extremely vague when asked by journalists how much could and should be saved with the voluntary recommendations. The reason may be that it is simply impossible for the Federal Council and the energy industry to determine the exact energy requirements of Ms. Swiss. And if you don’t know where to start, you can’t formulate a goal.

This brings us to another déjà vu from the pandemic period. The insight that Switzerland has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to digitization. During the pandemic, it was the fax machines used to report the number of cases to the Federal Office of Public Health that caused a lot of head shaking. Today it became clear that most households are still equipped with the old electricity meters that are read once a year. Accordingly, a savings target is now obsolete because it can neither be measured nor verified. The Federal Council is flying blind with its savings recommendations.

Despite shortcomings: awareness is needed

This is unfortunate, because behavioral psychology tells us that a campaign is more successful when the people it addresses know exactly what it is aiming for. And it is even more successful if it is always transparent how far away you are from the goal. The Federal Council’s campaign cannot build on this behavioral psychological tailwind.

That’s no reason to quibble about the campaign. Operating the oven with circulating air instead of top and bottom heat, showering for only five minutes instead of ten or hanging out the laundry to dry instead of using the tumble dryer: all of this does not cost you any comfort and can still save a few percent of energy. At best, the campaign will help avoid a blackout. Even if we will never know how much energy was actually saved.

Urs Leuthard

Head of the TV Federal House editorial office SRF

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Since the summer of 2020, Urs Leuthard has been head of the Bundeshaus editorial team at Fernsehen SRF. He has been moderating the “Voting Studio” since 2002 and analyzes elections and votes. Until 2008 he was moderator and editor-in-chief of the “Arena”, after which he switched to the “Rundschau” before taking over the editorial management of the “Tagesschau” in 2012. From 2016, Urs Leuthard was in charge of newsroom development at Fernsehen SRF.

The article is in German

Tags: impending energy crisis Federal Council flying blind austerity campaign News

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