Wednesday, September 27

Sánchez proposes not wearing a tie to save energy and reopens a debate of more than a decade

What does the tie have to do with energy saving? The question is up in the air again because the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has appeared at a press conference without a tie and has gone a step further: he has invited his government team and public workers not to use it either when not necessary.

“I’m not wearing a tie. We can all save from an energy point of view and I have asked the ministers and public officials not to use it when it is not necessary”, said the president at a press conference in which, among other issues, he discussed the fight against climate change.

“We have to save 7% and that we all have to be involved there,” explained Sánchez, arguing that the collaboration of all public administrations and companies will also help reduce electricity spending. “You only have to walk through a shopping center to know that the temperature is too low,” he added.

The clash over a tie between Miguel Sebastián and José Bono in 2011

Sánchez is not the first Spanish politician to link the use of a tie in summer and energy savings. In 2011, the then president of Congress, José Bono, reproached the Minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastián, for not wearing a tie during a control session held in July. Bono, however, thanked other parliamentarians for their help in maintaining “dress discipline” in the chamber.

With the same gesture as Sánchez, Sebastián tried to draw attention 11 years ago to the temperature in the Congress of Deputies and argued that with each degree that the air conditioning is raised, 7% energy can be saved. Minister Sebastián also relied on the example of Japan, where several ministers proposed abandoning the tie in the summer months. It was in the summer of 2005, when members of the Japanese government showed up at their offices without ties or jackets, surprising the entire country, arguing that the measure would help them comply with the Kyoto protocols for the fight against climate change.

“The Japanese Prime Minister will probably go to Parliament without a tie,” Bono replied, “but I don’t know if he will go to the Emperor of Japan.” In that session, the second secretary of the Congress Table and deputy of the PNV, José Ramón Beloki, had also asked Sebastián to provide arguments that demonstrate the relationship between “wearing or not wearing a tie” and energy saving, in case the Sebastián’s words served to conclude that “those of us who wear ties are against energy efficiency”.

Sebastián later responded that he would continue to go to Congress without a tie regardless of what the president of the Chamber said. The minister added that the controversy that arose then was good if it served to make citizens aware of energy savings through moderate use of air conditioning. The president of Congress later admitted that he had apologized to Sebastián with a text message for having interrupted the session to criticize him for not wearing a tie.

Before Sebastián, it had also been proposed by Josep Bargalló, Minister of ERC in 2003, during the first tripartite Catalan government. And in Greece, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who led the country from 2015 to 2019, used to wear a white shirt with an open collar, always without a tie. Although he never related it to energy saving, Tsipras’ wardrobe did fit in one of the times of greatest austerity in the Greek country. “I have never been seen wearing a tie and there is little chance of that happening,” he once said. Tsipras just put it on when presenting the agreement with the Eurogroup which ended eight years of financial bailouts in Greece. In the same speech, however, she took it off before walking offstage.