This week, the government of the canton of Geneva changed a law to require non residential buildings, with some exceptions, to switch off their lights at night between 1am and 6am.
Thursday’s parliamentary vote in favour of the move is expected to cut the canton’s electricity consumption by at least 1%. During parts of winter, Switzerland imports electricity to keep its lights on. In November 2021, Switzerland’s president warned the nation to prepare for electricity shortages.
Lighting that will be exempted from Geneva’s new rules includes emergency services lighting and lighting in prominent tourist areas. After much debate and less consensus, it was decided that shop windows would also be exempted.
In addition to making it difficult to see stars, artificial light has a negative effect on the natural biological rhythm of plants and animals including humans. Recognising the benefits of darkness, an organisation spanning Greater Geneva called La Nuit est Belle, organises two nights of darkness each year. In May 2021, 178 communes around Lake Geneva, in Vaud, Geneva and parts of surrounding France switched off their lights.