Geneva to turn down the lights at night

There will still be plenty of exceptions, including for tourist spots. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Geneva’s cantonal parliament has approved a law to reduce outside lighting at night in an environmental move. But there are exceptions, and not everyone is happy.

This content was published on November 12, 2021 minutes

The law, approved on Thursday, limits the use of illuminated outdoor signs and night-time lighting visible from outside non-residential buildings. It will reduce lighting in Geneva between 1am and 6am.

But it also provides for exceptions. Signs and night lighting in emergency medical facilities, fire departments and places of high tourist interest will not be affected. The same applies to hotels and other buildings where business continues beyond 1am. Street lighting is not affected.

The law aims to save electricity while reducing CO2 emissions and night-time pollution, said Geneva parliamentarian Amanda Gavilanes of the majority Social Democrat party. Cantonal government member Antonio Hodgers of the Green party, who holds the energy portfolio, said it would save 1% of the canton's total electricity consumption.

The move’s initiator, left-wing member of the parliament Rémy Pagani, said that the initial bill had been much watered down and there were too many exceptions. He called it lacking in ambition and promised to come back with a new bill.

On the other hand, the centre-right Radical Liberal party thinks the law is still too restrictive. The party’s cantonal MP Alexis Barbey said turning off the lights could harm businesses by reducing visibility of their brands and also tourism, insofar as a city's night-time lighting is part of its identity. He claimed it could also be detrimental to public safety.

In the end, the law was accepted by 69 votes in favour and 23 against.

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