Last weekend, 63% of voters in the canton of Zurich confirmed a government decision to phase out heating oil and gas heating in the canton.
Laws passed by the cantonal government in 2014 to ban the installation of heating oil and gas heating in new and old buildings proved unpopular with some. Aiming to overturn these laws, a group, supported by the local branch of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) and the local home owners association, launched a vote against the government’s plan. However, the initiative failed to draw enough opposition to overturn it.
The law requires anyone replacing a heating oil or gas heating system to install a modern low emission system, therefore preventing anyone with oil or gas heating upgrading to a new oil or gas system. At the same time the government plan invests in subsidising the switch to clean energy. Installing diesel and gas systems in new buildings is also banned. Heating oil and gas heating accounts for around 40% of the canton’s emissions.
Those against the plan argued that a ban is excessive and will increase costs for tenants and homeowners, while the government argued that the available clean heating alternatives are economically advantageous over the long term and should be required in the face of climate change.
In Switzerland, when tenants move out landlords typically renovate and raise rents. Opponents to the government’s plan argued that cost of heating upgrades will be passed on via rent increases.
So far roughly half of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have tightened regulations on building heating. However, some cantons have resisted. Voters in Bern, Aargau and Solothurn recently rejected plans similar to Zurich’s.
Zurich press release (in German)