Thursday, June 17, 2021

Swiss "Climate" Referendum: More Intrusion Of Reality Into The Climate Debate

To my list of examples of reality intruding into the utopian dreams of climate cultists, add the results of yesterday’s referendum in Switzerland. The headline at Reuters is “Swiss reject law to help country meet Paris carbon emissions goal.”

It seems that the Swiss parliament, after multiple years of considering and debating various proposals, had finally passed a package of measures intended to “save the planet,” or at least to push the Swiss people into achieving a Paris agreement goal of 50% emissions reduction (from 1990 levels) by 2030. As usual with these things, the entire strategy consisted of forcing the Swiss people to atone for their sins of prosperity by becoming poorer, in the form of higher prices for fossil fuels and airline tickets and forced restrictions on building heat and automobiles. Here is a list of the main provisions of the proposed law from swissinfo.ch: 

  • a levy of between CHF30 and CHF120 ($32-$129) on airline tickets, for flights taking off from Switzerland
  • an obligation for car importers to sell more energy-efficient vehicles
  • an increase of the surcharge on diesel and petrol from CHF0.05 to CHF0.12 per litre, to be levied by fuel importers
  • an increase of the tax on CO2 levied on diesel from CHF120 to CHF210 per tonne
  • CO2 emissions limits for buildings

Opponents estimated a cost to the average Swiss family in the range of CHF 1,000 (about $1,100) per year. That seems highly optimistic to me, but remember that this law was only part of the plan to get the first 50% reduction in emissions. The big money is in the second 50%.

The Swiss system contains big chunks of “direct democracy,” by which, among other things, the people can by referendum reject a statute passed by the parliament. To initiate the referendum, proponents needed to collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days. Here, some 110,000 were collected within 100 days.

The Swiss contribute something around 0.1% of world carbon emissions. Why would such a people consider impoverishing themselves even a little to reduce their tiny and insignificant portion of world emissions, when places like China, India and Africa — together having several hundred times the population of Switzerland — are on a crash campaign to build more coal power plants to bring electricity to their masses? I can’t answer that question for you. What I can do is tell you who in Switzerland supported this completely futile carbon-restriction legislation. First, there was the legislature itself, which had actually passed the proposed law. Which political parties in the legislature supported this? From swissinfo.ch:

In parliament, all parties backed the law except for the right-wing People’s Party.

They don’t have a two-party system in Switzerland like our system. A Wikipedia entry here lists some twelve political parties having representatives in the parliament. So it was eleven of twelve in support of self-impoverishment for no noticeable benefit. To be fair, the People’s Party is the largest of the twelve, with about 25% of the members.

Also among the law’s supporters were essentially all of the major institutions of Swiss society. Again, from swissinfo.ch:

[I]n favour of the law [was] a campaign committee representing business, energy providers, the construction sector, banks, and insurance companies, as well as the Swiss Business Federation, the Swiss Climate Alliance, environmental groups like Greenpeace, and various local sections of the Climate Strike movement.

And don’t forget academia, plus essentially all established media and newspapers.

According to this post-election piece at swissinfo.ch, the vote was close — 51.6% to 48.4%. There was a sharp urban/rural divide in the voting, with supporters of the law running up substantial majorities in the cities of Zurich, Geneva and Basel, while the opponents swept the rest of the country, with bigger majorities in the most rural areas.

The bottom line: after some 30 or more years of unrelenting propaganda about the supposed climate crisis, when the issue got presented with specific costs attached, the Swiss people were sensible enough to say no.

This isn’t over, of course. The left never gives up. The rejection of this one law by the referendum process will not prevent the parliament from passing the next law, probably tweaked just enough to seem to be different, and perhaps with the costs a little better hidden. At which point the people will be forced to go through this process again. And again and again. But the point remains that no amount of unrelenting propaganda can make pointless self-sacrifice popular when the public can be made aware of the costs.


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