Swiss nuclear referendum result is pro-science and pro-climate

28 November 2016

On Sunday the 27th of November, the Swiss public voted in favour of letting the country’s fleet of nuclear power reactors operate for longer than 45 years, based on regulatory approval(1) .

The commendable result shows that the Swiss people trust expert safety authorities, and that they hold climate and energy security concerns as more important than radiation fears. In short, the sensible Swiss have priotised science and their extensive nuclear experience ahead of green energy dogma.

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association noted, “The Swiss people have chosen to use their existing nuclear energy assets more wisely and to preserve their wonderful clean electricity system. Relying on a balanced mix of hydro power and nuclear, their energy mix is one of the cleanest in the world and it provides a successful model for other countries that are seeking to decarbonise.”

Rising continued, “The Swiss nuclear vote is as clear an example of energy democracy as one could ask for. It sends a message to the world that they do not want to follow their German neighbour’s floundering energiewende example.”

The referendum outcome should result in current Swiss nuclear plants generating for about 60 years, with the first unit closing sometime in the 2030s. It also shows that the Swiss public attitude towards nuclear energy is more favourable than many thought.

A hastily-enacted policy preventing new nuclear build was introduced in Switzerland months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Swiss policy makers should now use the available time to remove the construction ban and put in place measures that will enable nuclear energy to keep playing a vital supportive role in the country’s low-carbon mix over the long term.


1. For background information on the referendum and nuclear energy in Switzerland please consult this World Nuclear News article and our information paper.

The World Nuclear Association is the industry organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.

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