CO2 Act (Act 641.71, fully revised version) ( 2013 / Mitigation Framework )

The CO2 Act is at the core of Swiss climate legislation and has been updated several times, including for meeting Swiss commitments under the UNFCCC. The most recent version of the CO2 Act is a full revision of the 2000 CO2 Act, which has been partially revised several times, and a response to the need…read more

Mineral Oil Tax reduction on Biofuels and Natural Gas (Mineral Oil Tax Act) (amendment) ( 2008 )

The Mineral Oil Tax Act was amended to provide tax incentives for low carbon fuels. It contains provisions that allow a tax reduction of CHF0.40 (USD0.42) per litre petrol for natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Furthermore, biogas and other fuels from renewable energy sources are fully exempted from the Mineral Oil Tax under…read more

Federal Heavy Vehicle Fee Act 641.81 and Federal Heavy Vehicle Fee Ordinance 641.811 ( 2000 )

Freight transportation is subject to the heavy vehicle fee (HVF). In 2008 it was levelled off at CHF0.0275 (USD0.0287)/tonne/km. It differentiates according to three aspects: ? Distance travelled in Switzerland ? Gross weight ? Pollution intensity of the vehicle based on EURO classes/ emission standards It applies to road vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and aims…read more

Energy Act 730.0 and related regulation ( 1999 )

The Energy Act (as amended notably by the 2007 Electricity Supply Act, in force since 01/01/2009) and related Ordinances (see below) provide the basis for a “sustainable and modern Swiss energy policy” (Swiss Federal Office of Energy). The main aim of the Act is to contribute to an adequate energy supply – i.e. diversified, safe,…read more

Forest Act 921.0 ( 1993 )

Legislation to support sustainable management of forests and adaptation to climate change. Its objective is to maintain existing forest cover and protect it as natural habitat. These objectives are combined with maintaining the forests’ protective, welfare and usefulness function as well as to support and maintain the forest economic sector. The forest act also aims…read more

Forest Policy 2020 ( 2013 )

Switzerland's Forest Policy 2020 sets out visions, objectives and measures for the sustainable management of forests in Switzerland. It  formulates provisions for the optimal coordination of the ecological, economic and social demands on the forest, in order to ensure sustainable forest management and create favourable conditions for an efficient and innovative forestry and wood industry. The Policy defines a…read more

Ordinance for the Reduction of CO2 Emissions (CO2 Ordinance), SR 641.711 ( 2013 )

The CO2 Act is the core of Switzerland’s climate policy: its objectives, instruments and measures. The CO2 Ordinance specifies how the different instruments are implemented and contains more detailed regulations on all the instruments mentioned in the CO2 Act. Details of the CO2 Levy on Process and Heating Fuels has been integrated under this Ordinance,…read more

Adaptation to Climate Change in Switzerland: Goals, Challenges and Fields of Action (UD-1055-E) (Swiss National Adaptation Strategy: Part I) and Adaptation to Climate Change in Switzerland: Plan of Action 2014-2019 (1081-F) (Swiss National Adaptation Strategy: Part II) ( 2012 / Adaptation Framework )

The Swiss National Adaptation Strategy aims to serve as framework for the federal offices to adapt a co-ordinated course of action in response to adverse climate effects. It is spilt into two parts. The Strategy describes the goals, challenges and fields of action in adapting to climate change in Switzerland. The overall goal of the…read more

Regulation on the CO2 Emission for New Passenger Vehicles ( 2012 )

Following from the CO2 Act, the Regulation specifies that all newly registered cars are subject to the overall average value of CO2 emissions of 130g CO2/km by 2015. If the average emissions from a passenger car fleet exceed the emission standards, the vehicle importer must pay a fee. There are exemptions for second hand cars…read more

Economy-wide

NDC Laws and National Policies

50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, corresponding to an average 35% reduction over the period 2021-2030; anticipated 35% reduction by 2025 compared to 1990 levels

Economy Wide | Base Year Target | Target year: 2030 | Base year: 1990

Source: NDC

20% of GHG emissions (with additional possible commitments) by 2020 against with a 1990 baseline

Economy Wide | Base Year Target | Target year: 2020 | Base year: 1990 | Source(s): CO2 Act (A... (2013 / Legislative)

Energy

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.

At least 37,400 GWh of hydroelectric energy by 2035

Renewable Energy | Fixed Level Target | Target year: 2035 | Base year: N/A | Source(s): Energy Act... (1999 / Legislative)

At least 4,400 GWh of non-hydro renewable energy by 2020 and at least 11,400 GWh by 2035

Renewable Energy | Fixed Level Target | Target year: 2035 | Base year: N/A | Source(s): Energy Act... (1999 / Legislative)

Reduce electricity consumption per person and per annum by 3% in 2020 and by 13% by 2035 by 2020, 2035 against a 2000 baseline

Energy Efficiency | Base Year Target | Target year: 2035 | Base year: 2000 | Source(s): Energy Act... (1999 / Legislative)

Reduce energy consumption per person and per annum by 16% in 2020 and by 43% by 2035 by 2020, 2035 against a 2000 baseline

Energy Efficiency | Base Year Target | Target year: 2035 | Base year: 2000 | Source(s): Energy Act... (1999 / Legislative)

Buildings

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.

Building sector to emit no more than 78% of 1990 emissions by 2015 against a 1990 baseline

General | Base Year Target | Target year: 2015 | Base year: 1990 | Source(s): Ordinance ... (2013 / Executive)

Industry

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.

Industry sector to emit no more than 93% of 1990 emissions by 2015 against a 1990 baseline

General | Base Year Target | Target year: 2015 | Base year: 1990 | Source(s): Ordinance ... (2013 / Executive)

Transportation

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.

Transport sector to emit no more than 100% of 1990 emissions by 2015

General | Base Year Target | Target year: 2015 | Base year: 1990 | Source(s): Ordinance ... (2013 / Executive)

Agriculture

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Coastal Zones

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Cross-Cutting Area

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Disaster Risk Management (DRM)

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Environment

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Health

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

LULUCF

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Social Development

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Tourism

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Urban

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Waste

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Water

NDC Laws and National Policies
There are no quantifiable targets found in the NDC.There are no quantifiable targets found in the laws and policies.

Swiss climate legislation takes an integrated approach, whereby climate mitigation and adaptation objectives are mainstreamed into areas with major GHG emissions. While Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it has made many laws compatible with European legislation and co-ordinates in a wide range of policy areas with the EU via bilateral agreements and the European Economic Area.

According to the constitution, combating climate change is part of the objective of the Confederation and the Cantons to achieve sustainable development as well as to protect the environment and to ensure an environmentally sustainable energy supply by reducing energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energies. The CO2 Act, passed in 2000, set emission reduction objectives for 2008 to 2012. It was fully revised in 2013 to set new emission reduction objectives for the post-2012 period, and to ensure the co-ordination of adaptation measures.

In 2011, in the aftermath of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, the Federal Council and the Parliament decided to exit step by step from nuclear power production. This decision led to the formulation of a new long-term energy policy (Energy Strategy 2050). In 2013 the Federal Council submitted to Parliament a first set of measures under the strategy. The package includes a set of policies and instruments to foster the use of renewable energies, to improve energy efficiency and so to reduce energy and power consumption until 2020. The strategy will also contribute to the long-term goals of climate policy – to reduce annual GHG emissions to 1-1.5 tonnes per person. The proposal is currently under parliamentary debate and is expected to be adopted by 2017.

Key proposal for the second set of measures of the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050 is a tax reform on fuels and electricity that includes a redistribution of revenues and might merge the feed-in tariffs and CO2 levy into a single levy.

The Interdepartmental Climate Change Committee oversees implementation and monitoring of policy and processes related to climate change. SwissFlex, the national secretariat for the flexible mechanisms, was established in 2004 to be the Designated National Authority under the CDM and Designated Focal Point under JI.

Switzerland has a multitude of laws, ordinances, plans and programmes that have co-benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation, too numerous to provide an exhaustive list in this report. Policy measures are frequently combined to implement or modify initiatives and can be superseded by more recent policies, while a multitude of policies integrate climate objectives at the cantonal level.

Despite the federal structure and special status of the cantons, many direct climate-related measures are co-ordinated and implemented at the federal level For example in the industry sector, the CO2 levy, the ETS and the emission reduction targets for companies not participating in the ETS are implemented at the federal level.

The cantons are self-governed and widely independent entities that also set up a wide range of climate-related measures, which are further implemented by the communities and municipalities. Most of these initiatives focus on measurable emission reductions in sectors including heating in buildings, municipal transportation, adaptation measures and education.

Energy supply

Electricity generation predominantly focuses on hydropower (56%) and nuclear power (39%), with oil and gas imported for transportation and heating. Switzerland introduced a feed-in tariff for electricity from renewable energy sources in 2009 in conjunction with a liberalisation of the electricity market to make renewable energy more competitive with fossil-fuel based electricity. In 2011 the solar/PV scheme was so popular that the allocated funding was exhausted and several projects were postponed. The funding of CHF320m (USD334m) for 2013 is capped for the different types of renewable energy sources at 50% for hydropower, 30% for wind power and 5% for solar PV.

In 2013 the Federal Council adopted a legislative package in line with Energy Strategy 2050, in the wake of the 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power. After Fukushima, it became clear that Swiss citizens would not approve any new nuclear plants. The package, which consists of amendments to various laws, is now being debated in the Parliament. Electricity liberalisation has been delayed in the face of nuclear phase out and a public consultation started in October 2014 on the liberalisation of electricity supply that implements the Federal Electricity Supply Act (2007).

Energy demand

The Swiss Energy programme aims to reduce energy consumption by 10% compared to 2000 levels, with electricity consumption being no more than 5% above 2000 levels and renewable energy meeting 3% of electricity and heat demand. Other measures to reduce energy demand include liberalisation of the electricity market, new building codes, energy efficiency and renewable energy action plans. Industrial emissions are predominantly addressed with carbon pricing measures such as the CO2 levy and the domestic ETS.

The buildings programme of the confederation and the cantons 2013-2016 aims to reduce energy use and increase energy efficiency in the buildings by means of renovation, use of optimal energy efficiency technology, waste heat recovery and generating power in each building. Review of the programme is conducted every year. 2012 was the final year of the previous phase and completed projects include solar-oriented design in urban areas, buildings as power stations and buildings as intelligent technical control systems. New projects starting between 2012 and 2013 included development of a cost-effective air-gel insulating material and investigation of effective insulation thickness of buildings.

Targets for energy demand include the following: the average annual per capita energy demand in 2020 is to be lowered by 16% from 2000 levels and 43% by 2035. Energy demand in 2020 is to amount to 213TWh, compared to 245TWh in 2012. Average annual electricity use per capita is to decline by 3% by 2020 and 13% by 2035 from 2000 level. This implies electricity demand will stabilise (64TWh in 2020 against 63.4TWh in 2012) despite continued population (and economic) growth.

Carbon pricing

Pricing GHG emissions to incentivise lower fossil fuel consumption and to raise revenue for (exclusively) climate mitigation measures is a key feature of Swiss climate policy. Switzerland introduced a carbon levy for stationary fuels in 2008, which was increased from CHF12 to CHF36 (USD12.5-USD37.6) per tonne CO2 in 2010, and then further increased to CHF60 (USD62.7) in 2014, with a third of the revenues – and no more than CHF300m (USD313m) a year as of 2013 – earmarked for the buildings programme to cut emissions in the building sector. Firms exposed to international competition and for which the carbon tax would be a substantial burden are exempted from the tax in exchange for committing to emission reductions. The largest ones participate in the Swiss Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), the linkage of which with the EU ETS is under negotiation.

REDD+ and LULUCF

Switzerland’s forests are protected from land use changes via the Forest Act, which prescribes sustainable forest management, bans deforestation unless an equal area of afforested land replaces the cleared area or equivalent measures to improve biodiversity are implemented. The national forest programme describes in its action plan for 2004-2015 the priority areas of guaranteeing the forest’s protective functions, conserving biodiversity, improving the economic viability of the forestry sector, strengthening the value chain for wood and protecting forest soils, trees and drinking water. The rate of wood harvesting is likely to increase, partly to replace fossil fuel intensive building materials such as cement and steel with wood products and partly because of the mature state of the forest stock, which is likely to be harvested in the near future, thus reducing the carbon sink. The agriculture sector accounts for over 10% of overall emissions. Measures integrated into agricultural policy mirror the increasing greening measures within the European Common Agricultural Policy. Policy focuses on product-independent direct payments encouraging farmers to maintain the land according to good environmental standards, subsidising the more efficient use of natural resources, maintaining a suitable proportion of ecological compensation areas, encouraging crop rotation and soil protection, selective application of crop protection agents and reducing the GHG intensity of agricultural production.

Transportation

The transportation sector accounts for over 30% of GHG emissions and thus has a large potential for reducing emissions. The focus is on introducing more sustainable modes of infrastructure and transportation by supporting low emission technologies. Regulations encourage more sustainable modes of passenger transportation through emission standards, the promotion of biofuels, environmental labels for vehicles and supportive climate mitigation measures at the communal and cantonal level. In 2012, Switzerland introduced carbon emission regulations for new cars (CO2 Ordinance). In line with the respective EU regulation, all importers are mandated to reduce CO2 emission from their newly registered cars to 130g/km on average by 2015.

From 2005 to 2012, transportation fuels were subject to the Climate Cent, a CHF0.015/litre (USD0.016) levy collected by a private foundation and used to buy emissions certificates in compensation for CO2 emissions from motor fuels as well as to realise emission reduction projects. From 2013, it was replaced by an obligation for importers of petrol, diesel, natural gas and kerosene to compensate for their transportation-related CO2 emissions (if > 1,000 tCO2). The compensation rate is to be raised in three steps and amount to: 2% for 2014 and 2015; 5% for 2016 and 2017; 8% for 2018 and 2019; and to reach 10% by 2020.

Freight transportation is to be moved from the road to the railways and subject to a heavy vehicle fee, which differentiates not only according to the distance travelled and the gross weight, but also the pollution intensity of the vehicle based on EURO classes/ emission standards. There are also aircraft engine emissions charges.

Adaptation

The Swiss National Adaptation Strategy is a response to the risks associated with the unavoidable consequences of climate change. These are in particular increased melting rates of Alpine glaciers and the destabilisation of permafrost soil resulting in landslides, changes in surface runoff, flooding of valleys and irregular water levels in rivers and hydropower-related reservoirs. Biodiversity in the fragile Alpine ecosystems is also very likely to be affected. An integrated approach spanning different policy areas and involving various stakeholders is required to effectively address these challenges.

The Strategy aims to serve as framework for federal offices to adopt co-ordinated action in response to adverse climate effects. It is split into two parts. The first part, which describes the goals, challenges and fields of action in adapting to climate change, was adopted by the Federal Council in 2012. In the second part, adaptation measures are presented and co-ordinated in a joint action plan, which was adopted in 2014.

Union of Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection v. Swiss Federal Council and Others (Opened in 2016 )

Citation/reference number: No. A-2992/2017
Jurisdiction: Switzerland
Core objective(s): Adequacy of Swiss government's climate change mitigation targets and implementation measures
Current status: appealed

In 2016, a group of senior women, filed suit against the Swiss Government, alleging that the government had failed to uphold obligations under the Swiss Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by not steering Switzerland onto an emissions reduction trajectory consistent with the goal of keeping global temperatures below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels/…read more

Switzerland is a federal state with 26 cantons that enjoy far-reaching autonomy. The government, parliament and courts are organised across the federal level, the cantonal level and the communal level. There is a strong tradition of subsidiarity in the form of cantonal and communal self-determination and self-governance. The federal level aims to establish a minimal amount of national standards and holds responsibility for supra-cantonal policy areas. In consequence, constitutional law states that legislative power rests with the sovereign cantons unless it is explicitly assigned to the federal level.

The Swiss Parliament consists of two legislative chambers. The 200 members of the National Council are elected every four years based on a refined proportional representation system with modifications for smaller cantons. The last federal election was held in October 2015 and the next will be held in 2019. The cantons are represented in the second chamber, the Council of States. Its 46 members represent the 20 full cantons (two representatives each) and the 6 half cantons (one representative). The two chambers discuss new laws separately in an iterative process until an agreement can be reached. Because representing a constituency in the Parliament is not a full-time job, parliament meets only 4 times per year for several weeks. The meetings are supplemented with one-day conferences of the different commissions, where members of parliament represent their parties’ interests. The seven members of the federal government form the ‘Bundesrat’ (Federal Council). As heads of government departments they hold equal rights and can be re-elected without legal limit to their total term of office. They meet weekly and take decisions either by majority voting or consensus. At the beginning of a new four-year term, the Federal Assembly consisting of the National Council and the Council of States elects the Federal Council in the December following the parliamentary election (and the frequently jointly held Council of States election). The Swiss Presidency rotates among the members of the Federal Council each year.

Direct democracy plays a crucial role in the legislative process. There are frequent referenda on laws passed by the Parliament, some mandatory while others are discretionary if 50,000 citizens demand for it. Citizens can also submit proposals to change the Swiss constitution if supported by 100,000 signatures. The relatively small population and long tradition of direct democracy have so far had a stabilising effect on Swiss politics as they increase parties’ willingness to compromise, favour large coalitions and are likely to block extreme laws.

Last modified 10 October, 2017