Swiss vote to withdraw country from use of nuclear power

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Some 58.2% of voters in a recent referendum supported a ban on new nuclear power plants. The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011. According to the Swiss government website, it is aimed at reducing energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable energies such as water, solar, wind and geothermal power, as well as biomass fuels.

Sunday's vote paves the way for the government to gradually begin implementing the measures starting next January. No. Opinion polls had suggested the new energy law would be approved in the country's binding referendum.

"This is a historic day for the country", Adele Thorens Goumaz, a Green Party parliamentarian, told public broadcaster RTS.

Under the law, Switzerland plans to cut its energy consumption nearly by half by 2035 as compared to levels seen in 2000 and introduce stricter regulations for vehicle Carbon dioxide emissions.

But while that is low, it still falls within the average for voter turnout over the past two years, according to the ATS news agency.

Switzerland operates five nuclear power plants, which provide a third of the country's energy needs.

In this March 5, 2014 file picture Greenpeace activists hang banners saying "The End", at a building of the Nuclear power plant Beznau near Doettingen, Switzerland. In addition, the planned program to reduce energy consumption by introducing new energy standards and tax privileges for those involved in energy innovation.

That first target has nearly already been reached, with energy consumption now 14.5 percent lower than at the turn of the millenium, according to government figures. Basing projections on partial results, pollster Claude Longchamp said the level of support in a referendum in Switzerland on Sunday "will be above 55 percent and thus far above any area of doubt".

Those who have been opposing the country's plans to move away from nuclear power have claimed that Switzerland will have to pay a lot more money on renewable sources while the landscape risks at losing its beauty. Farand reports that the government estimates the plan will lead to a roughly $40 due annual surcharge per family to fund renewable energy.

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