Ten years ago, the vision of a "2000-Watt Society" was developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. It is a model for energy policy which demonstrates how it is possible to consume only as much energy as worldwide energy reserves permit and which is justifiable in terms of the impact on the environment. It is possible when every person in every society limits their energy consumption to a maximum of 2000 watts.
Furthermore, at least 75% of energy needs need to be met using renewable energy sources, meaning that on an annual basis only one tonne of greenhouse gas is given off per person per year. The 2000-Watt Society is Zürich’s approach to tackling climate change and the future conflict of resources.
Striking a global balance
Today, each person requires 17,500 kilowatt-hours of energy per year on global average, which corresponds to a continuous requirement of 2000 watts. In Switzerland the figure is three times higher – 6000 watts per person – while people in some Asian and African countries need barely a fraction of that figure. The vision of a 2000-Watt society makes it possible to strike a balance between industrialized and developing countries and for everyone to thus enjoy a good standard of living.
Using 2000 watts for a higher quality of life
The quality of life in the 2000-Watt Society does not entail any restrictions. On the contrary, security, health, comfort and the development of the individual are all improved, with incomes increasing by around 60 percent over 50 years. On a global level, sustainability will be a necessary condition for peaceful social co-existence.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) and other institutions have confirmed that the vision of a 2000-watt society is feasible. They have been closely examining the largely unexploited efficiency and substitution potentials that exist in Switzerland and have come to the conclusion that a period between 50 and 100 years will be required for this vision to become reality.
To achieve this goal by 2050, the city of Zürich is making commitments in the following areas:
- Energy efficiency and renewable energies Comprehensive energy services are offered along with consulting for constructioncompanies to pass on the necessary expertise.
- Sustainable buildings
Almost all new constructions such as housing estates, school buildings and retirement homes, correspond to the Minergie Standard (for low-energy housing).
- Mobility for the future
Zürich promotes means of transport which make efficient use of urban spaces and energy resources, namely public transport, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Regular events to increase public awareness are held, such as the annual environment days and the Zürich Multimobil action day (where the inner-city is closed to cars).
To promote sustainable consumption the city uses measures like a wide range of recycling options, a strategy to widen healthy and climate-friendly food or a sustainable procurement strategy in the administration.