Monday, 15 May 2017

Swiss to vote on 'Energy Strategy 2050'

Swiss voters will have their say this Sunday (May 21st) on the government’s ‘energy strategy 2050’.

Spearheaded by Swiss president and energy minister Doris Leuthard and drawn up partly in reaction to the 2011 nuclear reactor disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the energy strategy 2050 aims to gradually withdraw Switzerland from nuclear power and increase its use of renewable energy sources.

Under the plans no new nuclear power plants will be built in Switzerland and the five that do exist – including the world's oldest operating reactor, Beznau I – will be decommissioned at the end of their technically safe operating life.

The strategy will focus on exploiting hydropower and other renewable resources such as wind and solar power, as well as increasing energy efficiency by offering tax incentives for energy-efficient building works and tightening emissions rules for passenger vehicles.

These measures require changes to the existing energy law and the first set were approved by the Swiss parliament last September.

Swiss canton of Valais launches new local currency

From now on you can pay for purchases in Valais not only in Swiss francs but in farinets, the new ‘local currency’ of the canton. The farinet was launched at the weekend in the city of Sion. It comes in eight denominations – 1,2, 5, 10, 13, 20, 50 and 100 – and has the same value as the Swiss franc.

So far around 100 shops and businesses in the canton have agreed to accept the farinet for payment, including cafes and restaurants, small businesses and independent traders. Shoppers can exchange their francs for farinets in various official bureaux de change including at the tourist office in Sion and the markets of Sion, Sierre and Martigny.

Participating businesses – listed on an interactive map – will accept either full or partial payment in farinets.

The concept of a local currency has existed since the 1980s. By restricting its use to a limited geographical area it encourages shoppers to spend locally, so boosting the local economy and favouring small businesses and artisans.

The farinet is the Switzerland’s second local currency after the léman launched in Geneva in 2015. The léman is equivalent in value to the euro and can be used in more than 200 participating businesses in the Lac Léman region including Lausanne and neighbouring France.

Around 5,000 local currencies exist worldwide, including the Brixton pound and the Bristol pound in the UK and the eusko in the Basque country.

Guardian article about the popularity of the local currency in the UK.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Zurich: most expensive city for a date

I’m so glad I’m not ‘on the market’ here in Switzerland as its banking hub has been ranked the most expensive location to date the girl or guy of your dreams.

For at least the second year running, Zurich has taken top place for the most expensive city for a date – cab rides, dinner for two at a pub, soft drinks, two movie tickets and a couple of beers  – according to Deutsche Bank’s special report ‘Mapping the World’s Prices 2017’.

In the city home to both UBS and Credit Suisse, an average night out costs the equivalent of £151.40 – 147% more than seventh-ranked New York.

The aim of the research is to provide insight into whether or not exchange rates do actually adjust to correct large price differentials across countries and time, as conventional economic theory suggests they should – all else being equal. 

However, what this research ignores is the fact that everyone gets paid so much more than they do in other countries – and this leads me onto the blindingly obvious point that the best place to bag your prince charming is in Zurich – a heaving wallet (and usually very respectful outlooks) should suggest a substantial amount of future happiness.