“Sleep on it first”: National Councilor Kurt Fluri criticizes the panic policy of Parliament – and his parliamentary group
President of the Landscape Protection Foundation, ex-President of the State Political Commission, Freisinniger: National Councilor Kurt Fluri wears many hats in a session that reassesses the protection and use of nature.
Mr. Fluri, how are you finding the current session?
Kurt Fluri: It’s a weird session, hectic to hysterical. It is as if Parliament only knew the crisis mode. Everything revolves around energy production – with ill-considered decisions. It is important to prevent what happened with the Energy Strategy 2050: After Fukushima, it was decided to phase out nuclear power in a panic. We wouldn’t have today’s problems.
Isn’t it about the fact that politicians have long slept through the signs of the times? France in particular shows that nuclear power can also mean a cluster risk.
It shows the importance of nuclear power. But take the “urgent” decisions of the Council of States: they will not bring anything for the coming winter half-year. However, it is argued that there is an impending shortage from 2025, which is certainly not urgent.
You have been in parliament since 2003 and have a reputation for having a political conscience. It is noticeable that the Council of States – actually the Chambre de Réflexion – produced the current quick fixes.
That worries me too. I got the impression that Beat Rieder, member of the Central Council of States, and others really wanted to undermine environmental protection.
You say others, but actually you mean your own group colleagues?
Yes, I didn’t understand the FDP members in the environmental commission. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that some provisions are unconstitutional.
On Wednesday it was FDP President Thierry Burkart who recalled your party colleagues Martin Schmid and Ruedi Noser in the debate.
Yes, and I was very happy about that. Burkart already recalled in the parliamentary group meeting that we all take our pledge to the constitution. Above all, Mr. Noser has the economy on his mind, for him the constitution only serves the economy. It is also a myth that nature conservation is only a concern of the left.
How does Parliament come to terms again?
It should sleep on it. It is enough if some decisions are not made until the winter session. The course has been set.
Is the doubling of the expansion targets for renewable energies a reaction to environmental protection’s policy of preventing them for years?
Generally one has this impression. However, the people clearly rejected curtailing the association’s right of appeal. In addition, the legal success rate of environmental protection is quite high. We at the Landscape Protection Foundation have a quota of 80 percent. One thing is clear: concessions are needed, but from both sides.
Getting it right is one thing, but doesn’t taking responsibility for climate protection also mean letting go of a five?
You can do that from time to time, but it is always the result of a weighing of interests. Our mission is to advocate for nature. There are many cases that we review and ultimately don’t raise an objection – they just don’t hear from them.
One attempt at consensus was the round table on hydropower. But your foundation backed down there too.
The procedure was good. Essentially, it was about three controversial projects: Grimsel, Trift and Gornerli. In the last case, we could not agree because the project is still early in the planning phase. Other environmental organizations have signed the declaration, but subject to objections to specific projects. We didn’t want that.
You are also on the board of the cantonal association of Pro Natura. How high will the pressure be to hold back with objections?
It will be big, but in the end the decision rests with the cantonal sections.
What is the round table worth?
Legally: nothing. Politically symbolic at best.
What would be your approach to reconciling the conflicting goals of environmental and climate protection?
We need to save more. The Federal Council’s energy-saving tips are all in the luxury range. As long as we start an ice hockey season at 30 degrees, we have enough energy. In the meantime, even fitness studios are said to be systemically important.
So do we need bans?
Probably yes. Before we attack conservation, we need to get out of the comfort zone of restrictions.
The Federal Office of Justice proposed this week to bundle the planning approval process for large power plants at the federal level. How do you rate that?
It would be an indictment of the cantons. Federalism has suffered greatly since the pandemic. But the cantons shouldn’t be surprised: they also refuse to take responsibility for their energy companies.
And in terms of content?
I find the idea plausible, the analogy to atomic energy was used as an argument. This responsibility never rested with the cantons. But if you do this, then not under the impression of an acute crisis, but from a certain distance.