With its Energy Strategy 2050, Switzerland aims to reduce its energy consumption by 43 % by 2035. There are various ways of achieving this goal: the federal government and the cantons could for instance levy taxes on energy, which means that consumption would become more expensive. Or the authorities could impose regulations and grant subsidies, for example in the form of assistance for the renovation of buildings, and thus promote energy conservation.
Researchers at the ETH Zurich and the consulting firm Ecoplan determined which of these two approaches is cheaper for the economy as a whole. They discovered that, even though incentive taxes involve higher energy costs for households, this scenario is ultimately the more affordable solution because consumers recover a large portion of their money in the form of refunds. The calculations show that in order to reach the set goals through incentive taxes, total annual costs of almost one billion Swiss francs are to be expected, i.e. 0.23 % of annual consumer spending in Switzerland. An average household would thus have to bear costs amounting to CHF 292. The situation is different with a reduction of energy consumption to the target level by means of subsidies: this strategy would cost in excess of 5.5 billion Swiss francs, i.e. more than five times more. Translated to an average household, this represents annual costs of CHF 1,548.