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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Water prices could rise, new sanctions against Russia, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Though water may seem abundant in the alpine country, it could become an expensive commodity. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Water prices could rise in Switzerland

The amount of water available during the hot and dry summer months has always been an issue and in certain regions, private households are being encouraged to save water. The Swiss Association of Municipalities (SVG) now assumes that prices are set to rise in the future due to water shortages, SRF reported.

The association also believes that a “seasonal solution” would be conceivable. This could be, for example, higher water tariffs in the dry summer months.

“One could argue that the price rises when there is scarcity in the summer. How much would depend on the uses for the water”, said Christoph Hugi, a specialist in sustainable resource management. He proposed a new calculation system that would make it more expensive for a swimming pool owner to fill up his pool but could have lower tariffs for a farmer that needs to water their fields, for example.

READ ALSO: ‘An impossible dream’: Will we come to dread Swiss summer in future?

New sanctions against Russia

Switzerland’s Federal Council has imposed new sanctions on Russia, it said yesterday. In view of the ongoing Russian military aggression in Ukraine, Switzerland has also decided to set the latest European Union sanctions prohibiting trade in gold and gold products.

Major global hub Switzerland is banning imports of Russian gold. The measures came into force yesterday.

“The new measures primarily concern a ban on buying, importing or transporting gold and gold products from Russia. Services in connection with these goods are also prohibited”, according to the Ministry of Economics.

READ ALSO: NATO in, neutrality out: How the Ukraine invasion impacted Switzerland

Inflation stays at 3.4 percent

Inflation in Switzerland has not risen further – at least for the time being, but it remains at a high level for the country.

At 3.4 percent, the consumer prices in July were at the same level as in June, as the Federal Statistical Office announced. The increasing prices are driven mainly by more expensive imported goods (which were up 8.4 percent compared to the same period last year).

Petroleum products, for example, cost 43 percent more than in July 2021, mainly due to the war in Ukraine.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland’s inflation has rate stayed low compared to elsewhere?

Hot and unstable day in Switzerland this Thursday

The weather forecast for Thursday promises a hot and unstable day in Switzerland. Temperatures may reach 35C in Genève, Sion, and Basel and 35C in Zürich and Bern. Chur and Lugano could see highs of 33C, according to the country’s Meteorologic Institute MeteoSchweiz.

In German-speaking Switzerland, the day should be mostly sunny and increasingly humid. There could be some afternoon showers above the mountains and near the Alps ridge.

The day will be sunny in Western Switzerland with a few morning clouds. Some showers and thunderstorms could happen in the afternoon, especially in the alps.

On the southern side of the Alpine region, it will be mostly sunny, according to the institute. Also, near the mountains, there is a tendency for local thunderstorms.

READ ALSO: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Swiss forest rangers fear thieves will target trees for firewood, flights to US and Canada back to pre-pandemic levels and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Swiss forests could be targeted by those looking to stock up on firewood

With Switzerland and other European nations threatened by a shortage of gas or electricity this winter those who have fireplaces have taken to stocking up on supplies fo firewood. 

The chairman of the Federal Electricity Commission, Werner Luginbühl, even recommended on Sunday that people should build up reserves in the event of a disaster scenario.

But as a result forest rangers fear many will take to the forests to illegally build up their supplies.

Neighbouring Germany has already seen people take to the forests to chop down trees for firewood, but so far Switzerland has been spared this kind of phenomenon.

But perhaps not for long.

Thomas Studer, director of a forestry operation in the canton of Solothurn told 20 Minutes: “Wood supplies are melting like snow in the sun.”

He fears there will be a rise in thefts in the coming weeks in the Swiss forests.

He said many walkers were already picking up branches that have fallen to the ground. He urged people to be responsible but warned that thieves would be punished because Swiss forests were not “self-service”.

“It’s theft and therefore punishable,” he said.

Airline tickets from Swiss to US and Canada reach pre-pandemic levels

Airline Edelweiss, a subsidiary of Swiss, has reported that its takings for July exceeded pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to the renewed interest in flights from Switzerland to the US and Canada.

The carrier suggests it has seen “record” monthly figures for July thanks to the rebound in tourism and travel during the summer season.

In July, Edelweiss carried 304,039 passengers, up 3 percent compared to July 2019, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Flights to the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic were particularly popular.

Parent company Swiss returned to profit in the first half after two years of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is now aiming to return to operational profitability for the whole of 2022.

Swiss could represent Ukraine diplomatically in Russia

Ukraine has asked Switzerland to represent it diplomatically in Russia, Bern confirmed Wednesday, stressing though that
Moscow would need to accept the arrangement for it to go ahead, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Switzerland — renowned for its neutrality — has said it stood ready to provide diplomatic assistance and to serve as a go-between.

The foreign ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine had requested that Switzerland “assume a protecting power mandate” for Kyiv in Russia, confirming a story in the Luzerner Zeitung newspaper.

The foreign ministry explained that such protecting power mandates “allow states to maintain low-level relations and provide consular protection to nationals of the other state concerned”.

“The corresponding negotiations have been completed,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP in an email.

Switzerland to impose stricter welfare rules for Ukrainian refugees

So far, refugees from Ukraine have received preferential treatment when it comes to social assistance applications, SRF reported. Unlike refugees admitted from other countries, wealthy Ukrainians have also been able to receive social assistance in Switzerland.

However, from now on, their assets in Ukraine will be taken into account during the applications, the report stated. This includes jewellery, cars, but also bank assets or properties in Ukraine.

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