Publications - Guest articles
Katrin Schneeberger, Director of Federal Office for the Environment
The framework for a long-term climate policy is in place
The Swiss voters sent a clear signal on 18 June 2023: they want Switzerland to be climate-neutral by 2050. This sets the framework for investment decisions by industry.
With almost 60% of the votes, the Swiss electorate came out in favour of the Climate and Innovation Act (KlG) on 18 June 2023. This makes Switzerland the first country in the world to have legitimised the net-zero target in a referendum. This decision also supports the objectives of the Paris Agreement, namely the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the effects of climate change and climate-friendly orientation of financial flows.
We are not alone with net-zero
The vote in favour of the KlG is a direct and democratic "yes" to a climate-neutral Switzerland. This lays an important foundation for our country, especially for industry and other sectors of the economy: Switzerland is moving towards net-zero and industry will be decarbonised by 2050.
This is not an easy path, but we are not alone: many countries, including some of Switzerland’s important trading partners, have also enshrined this path in law and are in the process of implementing appropriate measures. In Switzerland, the KlG offers companies and households support and incentives to focus their investment decisions on the net-zero target.
Continuing with the time-tested
As a framework law, the Climate and Innovation Act defines the target of climate neutrality by 2050 as well as interim targets. As the specific measures have to be elaborated in separate laws, the Federal Council is instructed in the KlG to provide support for this law with a law on measures, the CO2 Act.
The revision of the CO2 Act is intended to be a first step towards net-zero. It regulates climate policy measures up to 2030. Until then, Switzerland is required to halve its greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990. The law is currently being discussed in parliament and is due to enter into force on 1 January 2025.
Possibility of exemption from CO2 levy
The revised CO2 Act aims to continue a key element for industry: the possibility of exemption from the CO2 levy. It applies to companies that enter into a reduction commitment with the Federal government or participate in the emissions trading system (ETS).
The Swiss ETS will continue to be linked with that of the EU, so that local companies will have the same competitive conditions as their European competitors. The Federal Council, on the other hand, does not favour the introduction at present of a carbon border adjustment mechanism such as the mechanism that should be gradually implemented in the EU from 2026. Switzerland is thus keeping some room for manoeuvre while the EU is establishing the CBAM and its scope.
Together we can reach net-zero
As you can see, Switzerland’s climate policy is being coordinated with the international community and, in particular, the EU. However, as the example above shows, the Federal Council is also prepared to draw up specific proposals for Switzerland and thus to support our industry on its path towards net-zero. The goal is achievable and affordable, and we are not alone in pursuing it.
Image source «KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler»
Christian Hofer, Director of the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)