When Noah boarded his ark a long, long time ago, he took an entire zoo with him, writes the Swiss Federal Council.
Since the beginning of the industrial age, we have relied on fossil fuels. First on coal, then later on oil and natural gas.
That age is now coming to an end. This was the one clear message that came out of the World Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
We will move away from oil, gas and coal in the coming decades. We will no longer fill up our cars with petrol, but instead charge them with electricity.
We will no longer use oil for heating, but have alternatives such as heat pumps. New buildings will generate the energy they require.
And planes will no longer fly on climate-damaging kerosene, but use synthetic fuels.That sounds easy enough. In fact, decarbonisation is a project that affects everyone's lives.
Fossil fuels will disappear from numerous areas of life where they are now commonplace. CO2 is currently found in food, toys and clothes, for example. These examples show that there is still a long way to go.
But the decarbonisation process has already begun, and it will continue. The question is how we shape it.
My responsibility as a minister is to ensure that Switzerland emerges stronger from decarbonisation. Because decarbonisation means many things.
First and foremost, however, it represents a huge opportunity. We must make sure that as many people as possible see this opportunity.
YOU, ladies and gentlemen, YOU are the ones who see these opportunities, who can take on leadership, who can play a decisive role in the coming years with your investments.I have visited several start-ups over the last few months. What I saw there impressed me.
I visited a company that is developing carbon capture technology. Another is developing synthetic aviation fuels.
A third company produces concrete that binds CO2, and a fourth start-up is working on hydrogen-based solutions for energy storage. You probably know the names of these companies.
Climeworks, Synhelion, Neustark, GRZ.It's companies like these that are moving us forward. We are proud of this Swiss expertise, which produces solutions that we can export.
That's why the NOAH conference is in the right place. Decarbonisation has a long tradition in our country.
As many as 100 years ago, Switzerland began electrifying its railways. Our railways have been running on electricity for a long time.
Other countries are only just beginning to electrify routes.Switzerland also has a lot to offer when it comes to moving decarbonisation forward. I have mentioned some of the newer players.
But well-known giants such as ABB and Siemens have also been making progress with decarbonisation for a long time, and they are demonstrating how to use energy efficiently instead of wasting it. The cleantech sector in Switzerland has developed much more dynamically than the economy as a whole in recent years.
Our country has many innovative players in the cleantech sector. Cleantech patents in Switzerland have also grown strongly in recent years.
And our universities are constantly feeding companies with new ideas.If I, as a social democratic environment minister, now sound like a liberal business minister, it is for a simple reason: Switzerland has the opportunity to lead the way in decarbonisation. And I want us to seize this opportunity.
You, ladies and gentlemen, you invest. You manage financial flows so that the investments made today do not become worthless securities some time in the future.
Investments in fossil fuels no longer 'merely' entail a reputational risk. There is much at stake.
Someone who invests on a large scale in companies that develop new oil fields runs the risk of finding themselves sitting on a share package whose value goes down and down. Property portfolios that continue to rely on oil heating will also lose value over time.
I don't think you need investment advice from a social democrat minister and former consumer protection agent. But what I am telling you here, you will also hear from representatives of the world's largest asset managers.The brochures produced by major financial market players now read like an NGO's position papers.
I am sure that even a totally inexperienced person selecting shares to invest in today would randomly pick out some cleantech companies. Politicians, meanwhile, need to take a more careful approach to promoting decarbonisation.
If we want Switzerland to win with decarbonisation, we must first and foremost involve the public. Politicians must create suitable conditions so that people can reduce their carbon footprint without additional inconvenience.
This means investing in infrastructure and support for households. Expanding district heating networks is also a key part of this programme.
A week ago, people in Zurich voted clearly in favour of expanding the district heating network. In the mobility sector, charging infrastructure is needed.
Here, too, the Confederation wants to invest additional money so that people can charge their electric cars at home or at work. Local councils will also receive money to convert their bus fleets to e-buses.
(In addition,) the Confederation is providing a lot of money for renewable energies. The Federal Council aims to significantly boost the security of the country's power supply by expanding renewables.
Decarbonisation will only succeed if we produce more clean electricity, right here in Switzerland. The conditions are certainly attractive.
Persons investing in the expansion of renewables will now receive up to 60 per cent of the investment costs from the state. Hopefully that's a good enough argument to do so.
There has been a vast increase in the use of photovoltaics in Switzerland recently, which now compares favourably with other European countries. In 2020, we were in fifth place in Europe in terms of increase per capita.
In ski racing, that would be too little. In the energy sector, however, this is a great step forward.
The time when the cleantech sector was dominated by idealists and amateurs is long gone. The cleantech sector is a business case.
Today's event is clear evidence of this. I would like to thank you all for your involvement and convey best wishes on behalf of the Federal Council.
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