About half of Swiss natural gas is supplied indirectly from Russia
Today's “Climate Perspectives from Europe” takes a look at some of the responses in Europe to the war in Ukraine.
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War in Ukrainę & Energy Crisis
Hello! One of the big topics for environmental AND current events is the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. Here is my real-life perspective from Europe to go along with the headlines that you have probably seen.
Living in Europe during Russia’s war in
Ukraine is the closest I’ve ever been to war. The distance from my city in Switzerland to Kyiv, Ukraine is the same distance as Milwaukee to Salt Lake City. I used to walk past my apartment building’s nuclear bunker and roll my eyes thinking it was surely unnecessary. Now, I appreciate the Swiss attention to detail and emergency preparation even though it is very unlikely for the war (or nuclear fallout) to spread to Switzerland.
And it’s more than geographic proximity, but also social ties to people affected by the war. For example, our babysitter’s mother could hear bombing from her home. People in my husband’s company raised money to buy Ukrainian coworkers bullet-proof vests. And Polish coworkers were driving to the border every weekend to pick up refugees. Every war is horrible, and now I have a closer viewpoint than I would have had while living in Wisconsin.
About half of Swiss natural gas is supplied indirectly from Russia via distributors in other countries. Sanctions and politics with Russia have caused an energy crisis in Europe. What does that actually look like? We live in a modest apartment with radiator heating. Utility costs are split between all residents, so although we barely turn on our radiators we still pay a portion of the utility costs for the building. It makes sense because our unit benefits from the h
eat of our neighbors. With the energy crisis, we expect to pay 30-40% more for utilities this winter and beyond. Energy costs are so high that daycare rates went up.
As with rising energy costs in Wisconsin, the extra costs have a disproportionate affect on people depending on relative income. For us, we will budget accordingly and make it work, but I’d much rather pay for clean energy instead of ruining our Earth with fossil fuels while paying for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Thankfully there are also discussions about conserving energy and transitioning to renewables. Switzerland has a goal to cut natural gas usage by 15%. And we see a lot of media about the energy crisis and the need to save energy. For example, there are public reminders to use a lid on pots on the stove. The local newspaper has a section for “crise énergétique”. And, there are national discussions about a maximum indoor temperature of 68°F. There’s also a Swiss national plan which describes how fuel shortages would be handled via restrictions and quotas. A fuel shortage is unlikely, but again, the Swiss like to be prepared.
Relating the energy crisis to the climate crisis is easy. People, corporations, and countries need to urgently conserve energy and switch to renewables for the sake of a livable climate AND as a matter of human rights protection.
I want to emphasize that although I am experiencing this cost of energy crisis, it is nowhere near the tragic impacts felt by those directly involved in the war. So, this winter, let’s keep those people suffering from war (anywhere in the world) in our hearts and minds. And, let’s all do our part to save energy and ask corporations/municipalities to do the same.
I welcome your thoughts and questions:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @Environmentalist_Mama ([link removed])
Curious what the suggestions for saving energy are?
There are some good ideas for all of us!
Energy is limited.
Let's not waste it.
If you ventilate by constantly leaving the windows open a crack, you vent a lot of heat to the outside. It's better to open all windows three times a day for 5 to 10 minutes for aeration which allows you to save energy.
Use an electric kettle rather than a saucepan:
An electric kettle requires 30% less energy to heat water than a pan with a lid.
Lower the heating:
Lower the ambient temperature by 1° C [1.8° F] and save 6 to 10% of heating energy.
Preferably take showers over baths:
It is possible to save a lot of time
and hot water by taking showers that are short and warm. Water at 37° C [98° F] is ideal both for the body and for saving energy.
When out of a room, lower the temperature:
In unoccupied rooms, adjust the radiator thermostat to the low position (level 1). Also lower it when you leave your home for a few hours, even in the middle of the winter.
You will find more simple and quick recommendations on
stop-waste.ch ([link removed])
Michelle Eul is an engineer, a mother of 2, and a member of 350MKE. She is very passionate about protecting our environment and climate, and participates in environmental orgs like 350. Originally from Milwaukee, she now lives in Switzerland.
"With climate change, it’s good to have a global perspective, so to provide a European viewpoint, I’ll be sharing “Climate Perspectives from Europe”. I hope you find them interesting."
You can connect with Michelle at [email protected]
) or on Instagram @environmentalist_mama ([link removed]) .
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