According to the Federal Offices for the Environment and for Meteorology and Climatology, Switzerland is doing too little to achieve its climate goals. The imports also cause high CO2 emissions.
Why is? Switzerland is more affected by climate change than other countries. But it also emits significantly more climate-damaging greenhouse gases per capita than other countries. It has taken measures to combat climate change, but they are not enough. That is the conclusion of the report “Climate change in Switzerland”, Link opens in a new window, which the Federal Offices for the Environment and for Meteorology and Climatology have jointly published.
What’s new about it? “The findings are actually not entirely new,” says SRF business editor Klaus Ammann. However, for the first time in seven years, indicators from all relevant areas have been compiled in the paper. “And they show more clearly than ever that the climate in Switzerland has already warmed up by two degrees compared to the pre-industrial age, that in this country we are already above the temperature threshold that the world does not want to exceed on average.”
Imported goods pour in CO2
The report provides interesting figures on Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions. They show that this is slowly declining, but that the reduction target of minus 20 percent by the end of this year compared to 1990 is likely to be missed.
And above all, these figures show that Switzerland is in a bad position per capita if the domestic emissions are also included abroad, i.e. the emissions caused by the Swiss population through their consumption of imported goods.
Including this, Switzerland ranks fourth behind the USA, Australia and Canada, and clearly ahead of countries like China, which is often portrayed as a climate offender.
What are the prognoses? As far as future scenarios are concerned, there is still a lot of uncertainty. “It is clear, however, that if things continue as before, then warming in Switzerland could increase by up to seven degrees by 2100 – with correspondingly serious consequences for the environment, nature and agriculture.” The report states that only if rigorous measures are taken can warming be limited to 2.1 to 3.4 degrees.
Who is responsible? Not only Switzerland is required, but all countries in the world. «There are no limits to CO2 emissions. But Switzerland has a special responsibility, ”said the SRF editor. “We have a good balance here because we have, for example, comparatively climate-friendly electricity production.” But the Swiss fly an above-average amount. “And we consume many products that are produced abroad with large greenhouse gas emissions, such as electronics, which cause a lot of CO2 during production.”
Which areas does it concern? Switzerland is still doing too little to achieve its climate goals. The report shows that too. The authors looked at three areas: industry, buildings and transport. From this it can be seen that “the industry may just barely achieve its goal, that it is probably not enough in the case of the buildings – especially the heating systems – and that the traffic will clearly miss the targets by the end of 2020”.
What measures are needed? In the CO2 Act there are instruments that address the areas mentioned. “Above all in traffic, however, it is foreseeable that further measures will be necessary in order to achieve the next goals by 2030.” And until the so-called climate neutrality, which Switzerland is aiming for by 2050, is achieved, much more is needed. “This will probably require additional taxes or a higher price for CO2,” says the SRF business editor.
What would be the consequence? According to Ammann, there are studies that show that if climate change continues unchecked as it has up to now, it could cost Switzerland around twelve percent of its gross domestic product by 2100. “These are massive costs. And that makes the conclusion plausible that doing nothing is definitely more expensive than trading. “
Business editor, SRF
The historian and Russist has been an editor at Radio SRF since 2004. Klaus Ammann has been working for the business editorial team since 2011. His focus is on energy and climate issues.