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ZURICH

Gas crisis: Zurich residents urged to keep homes colder this winter

Authorities in the Swiss canton of Zurich have asked residents to heat their homes to 20C rather than the standard 23C this winter, in a bid to save gas.

Homes in the Swiss canton of Zurich look set to be a little colder this winter. Photo by Ksenia Chernaya
Homes in the Swiss canton of Zurich look set to be a little colder this winter. Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

When the weather turns cold this coming winter, many Zurich residents may look back at this year’s heatwave with longing and nostalgia.

That’s because gas shortage is looming, as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In order save electricity, the city’s government will call on households to lower the temperature from the usual 23 degrees to 20. 

“If all households were to implement this, it would make a difference overall,” said Martin Neukom, head of Zurich’s construction sector.

Other cantons are getting ready for the impending gas crisis as well, not ruling out countrywide restrictions on electricity consumption.

Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes reports that cantons could put in place strict gas quotas in order to ensure supply. 

How reliant is Switzerland on Russian gas?

While the reliance on Russian oil is comparatively minimal, Switzerland has a heavier reliance on Russian gas. 

Natural gas provides around an eighth of Switzerland’s total energy supply.

Problematically, Switzerland does not have any capacity to store gas in order to prevent insecurity of supply. This is despite a federally mandated store of a variety of other things, including foodstuffs and medication. 

Ukraine invasion: How reliant is Switzerland on Russia for energy?

Switzerland buys most of its gas through various European distribution centres, although an estimated 47 percent of this is of Russian origin. 

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UKRAINE

Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

Switzerland, a key refiner and manufacturer of gold bars, is banning imports of the precious metal from Russia, the government said Wednesday.

Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

The central government aligned itself with EU sanctions which, on July 21, added a ban on gold imports of Russian origin to the list of restrictions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ban came into effect at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, Switzerland’s Federal Council said in a statement.

Under the new sanctions, Switzerland forbids “buying, importing or transporting gold and gold products from Russia”, the statement said, adding that “services in connection with these goods are also prohibited”.

Traditionally neutral, Switzerland broke with its usual stance in the days after the start of the war in Ukraine by aligning itself with European Union economic sanctions.

In May, three tons of gold from Russia were imported from Britain, but it was not clear which company was responsible for bringing it to Switzerland, Bloomberg News reported.

The Swiss Association of Manufacturers and Traders in Precious Metals (ASFCMP), which represents the country’s largest refineries, contacted its members and said none of them were responsible for the imports.

The association insisted that “doubtful gold” had “no place in Switzerland” and urged its members to act “with the utmost caution”.

Swiss customs said at the time they were examining the imports in light of the sanctions, but insisted that gold imports from Russia were not banned.

While gold exports were already subject to sanctions, imports were not banned under the sanctions order, customs officials said.

The fourth package of sanctions imposed by the EU included luxury goods, banning the sale, supply, transfer or export of luxury goods to Russia, including gold, silver, pearls and diamonds.

But on July 21, the EU also explicitly added a ban on importing gold from Russia, including in the form of powder, debris or gold coins.

Switzerland has several refineries to recycle gold and melt ingots.

The sector employs 1,500 people, according to ASFCMP.

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