Switzerland rejects carbon emission cuts binding law

On the 06/14/21 at 8:14AM


Adrien Paredes-Vanheule

Swiss environment minister said it will be harder for the country to achieve Paris Agreement objectives following the vote.

Swiss citizens have rejected on Sunday a federal act on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 Act), aimed at trimming Switzerland's CO2 output by half by 2030 and helping the country reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Some 51.6% of Swiss voters voted against the CO2 law, which contained a range of measures relying on a combination of financial incentives, investments and new technologies.

“Climate-friendly behaviour will be rewarded, while anyone who causes a large amount of CO2 to be produced, for example frequent flyers, will have to pay more. Investments in buildings and infrastructure will receive support and innovative businesses promoted. Examples of such investment include building refurbishment and charging stations for electric vehicles’. Furthermore, the revised Act will require all new vehicles on the market to consume less petrol or diesel,” had said the Swiss Federal Council before the vote.

A member of the Swiss Federal Council and head of the Federal department of environment, transport, energy and communications, Simonetta Sommaruga said Swiss citizen said no to the law but not to the protection of climate. She added that it will be harder for Switzerland to achieve Paris Agreement objectives following the result of the vote but said Switzerland will not withdraw from it.

The Swiss Green Party and local climate non-governmental organisation Alliance Climatique Suisse said in a statement that they will launch a joint initiative to make the Swiss financial sector greener.

Switzerland woes to become a leading sustainable financial centre but struggles to adopt laws that could help reaching this goal. Swiss citizens had already rejected two responsible investment-related initiatives at the end of November 2020.

The former sought to impose stricter environmental and human rights rules to Swiss companies for their businesses outside Switzerland as well as for the activities of their providers and business partners. The latter sought to ban the financing of war material by Swiss institutional investors, including pension funds and the Swiss national bank.

Last year, consultant PwC Switzerland and biodiversity-focused NGO WWF Switzerland had said in a report that most green measures needed by the country, if they were to be applied, would require a rewriting of the current Swiss bills ruling the financial sector. Among others, both firms had suggested the country should turn its commitment to net zero GHG emissions by 2050 into a legal obligation for financial players in Switzerland and set interim emission target.

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