National Councillor Balthasar Glättli tabled a motion that would require all cars in Switzerland to be electric by 2025. He sees this as a way to meet emission levels set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change which aims to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees by 2030. His plan would ban all petrol and diesel cars from the roads by 2025.
Inspired by Norway, Netherlands and India, three nations discussing similar ideas, he discussed his proposal with SFR, Switzerland’s national broadcaster.
Glättli, who is a member of the Green Party sees a ban as move that would send a strong signal. He thinks it would boost innovation. It would be a signal to the car industry that there will be a large market for electric vehicles that is worth investing in.
Thierry Burkart, Vice President of TCS, a Swiss automobile association, told SFR: “There is no need for intervention by the state. People must first be convinced by the products.” He thinks technological progress in the field of electric cars is fast and that by 2025 electric cars will be like the petrol and diesel cars of today.
Other politicians, such as Thierry Burkhart (PLR/FDP) and Thomas Hurter (UDC/SVP), think a ban would stifle innovation.
An issue that appears to be missing from the discussion is where all the extra electricity would come from. Switzerland’s hydro production is running at full capacity of around 39,000 GWh1 (60%), Renewables are growing but only produced around 2,000 GWh1 (3%) of Switzerland’s electricity in 2015, and nuclear, which produced 22,000 GWh1 (33%) in 2015, is to be phased out by 2034.
If there were not a massive increase in renewable electricity production, fossil fuel production, (currently 3,000 GWh or 4%) would likely need to be increased to meet increased electricity demand. If not electric cars would merely shift emissions from the roads to power stations. We would end up driving coal-powered electric cars.
Any sensible plan to promote electric vehicles would need to include a plan to produce more clean electricity. One idea could be to hike electricity prices from the grid while offering incentives to install batteries and solar panels in homes sufficient to power cars. Elon Musk, one of the key figures behind the electrically powered Tesla car, has come up with such a package. He says his solar shingles will eventually cost less than a dumb roof – Bloomberg article on the subject.