In February 2007, the Federal Council decided to focus its energy policy on four main areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, replacement of existing large-scale power plants and construction of new ones, and foreign energy policy. In order to implement this strategy, the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) prepared draft action plans for energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, which were approved by the Federal Council on 20 February 2008.
These action plans set out to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by 20 percent by 2020 in line with the declared climate objectives, to increase the proportion of renewable energy to overall energy consumption by 50 percent, and to limit the increase in electricity consumption to a maximum of 5 percent between 2010 and 2020. From 2020 onwards, the objective is to stabilise electricity consumption.
The action plans comprise a carefully conceived package of measures that complement and supplement one another. The package combines incentives (e.g. a bonus/penalty scheme for vehicle tax on new cars), direct promotional measures (e.g. a national programme to promote the renovation of buildings), and regulations and minimum standards (e.g. introduction of a ban on conventional light bulbs in 2012). The action plans include measures for which either the federal government, Parliament or the cantons are responsible. Measures for which the federal government itself is not directly responsible are implemented in close collaboration with the relevant players. For example, the federal government is supporting the efforts on the part of the cantons to introduce consumption-based cantonal motor vehicle taxes, and is working closely together with the cantons to develop the existing energy label into an effective eco-label, which is to provide the cantons with the basis for a uniform solution.
The action plan for increasing energy efficiency encompasses 15 measures in the areas of buildings, mobility, appliances, training and further education, research and technology transfer.
The action plan for promoting renewable energy encompasses 7 measures in the areas of heat production for buildings from renewable energy, a strategy for producing energy from biomass, measures to promote hydropower, research, technology transfer and training and further education.