This post was written by Hatchet reporter Riley Kirkpatrick.
Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States highlighted the defining characteristics that have historically shaped the country’s political policies at an event at the Elliott School of International Affairs Wednesday night.
Ambassador Manuel Sager touched on issues related to climate change, and outlined Switzerland’s incentives for reducing carbon emissions.
“The best available science tells us that the temperature increase is in direct relation to the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Sager said. “We are combating CO2 emissions by offering tax breaks and subsidies to homeowners who switch to renewable fuels.”
Sagar said Switzerland’s lack of resources have forced its citizens to value innovation and frugality.
“The education system is designed so that people go to school for a specific trade. Most people do not go to college,” Sagar said.
The ambassador offered his perspective on another present-day challenge that the U.S. and the Swiss face together: The lingering financial crisis.
Unlike the U.S., Switzerland has managed to keep its budget in order, Sagar said. After a budget crisis in the late 1990s, the Swiss government proposed a Balanced Budget Amendment, which gave more voting rights to citizens.
The Swiss system has worked for more than 10 years, even allowing for a budget surplus in 2010, which Sagar called “a very difficult year.”
“Banks can not afford to go bankrupt. The effect on the economy would be catastrophic,” he said. “We need a change of mindset. As business leaders as well as customers, we need to make changes in our attitudes.”
The event was hosted by professional foreign service sorority Delta Phi Epsilon.