A group of Swiss politicians are trying to achieve through a referendum to keep nuclear power plants. The Action Group Stop Blackouts will collect signatures from next week to enforce such a referendum.

Switzerland decided in 2017 to close all five nuclear reactors in the country. That decision followed the nuclear disaster in Japan’s Fukushima after a tsunami. A reactor has already been shut down.

Stop Blackouts states that nuclear energy is CO2-free and environmentally friendly and that thanks to the nuclear power plants, Switzerland also had energy security. That is now at stake, the politicians behind the initiative claim. They want the Constitution to stipulate that the government in Bern is responsible for guaranteeing sufficient energy that comes “from an environmentally friendly way of generating energy”.

To force a referendum in Switzerland, it is necessary to collect 100,000 signatures within eighteen months. The country has about 8.5 million inhabitants, which means that about 1.2 percent of the population must sign the petition. It can take years before a referendum is held and a constitutional amendment is realized.

Next week, the Swiss government will come up with a plan to deal with possible energy shortages due to the war in Ukraine. That plan is expected to rely heavily on voluntary electricity savings by households. Switzerland produces more electricity than it uses, but is dependent on imports from neighboring countries in winter. In July, a senior government official said power outages of 4 hours could be needed in ever-changing areas if winter shortages occur.

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