Kyoto Protocol: Switzerland fulfils its commitment for 2008-2012

Bern, 10.04.2014 - Switzerland has fulfilled the objective set for it in the Kyoto Protocol for the period 2008-2012, particularly through emission reduction measures taken within the country. The purchase of certificates abroad and the CO2 sink effect of the forests were also taken into account. “The target for 2013-2020 is more ambitious and demands the commitment of all of the sectors involved,” noted Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment, on 10 April 2014 in Bern.

By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in 2003, Switzerland undertook to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 by 8% compared with 1990 levels. Most of the reduction measures were established in the context of the CO2 Act and included, in particular, the CO2 levy on combustible fuels, the buildings programme and the requirements for passenger vehicle emissions.

Other measures implemented from the 1990s, such as the improvement of energy efficiency, the promotion of public transport, the transfer of freight transport from road to rail, the use of more natural methods in agriculture and the regulation of synthetic gases, also contributed to the reduction of emissions.

4.5 million tonnes less CO2 thanks to national measures

Despite the fact that between 2008 and 2012 the Swiss population increased by 18%, the number of cars on the road grew by 34% and gross national product (GNP) rose by 36%, thanks to all of the reduction measures, greenhouse gas emissions stabilised during this period at a level slightly lower than that of 1990. Without the measures implemented at national level, Switzerland's annual emissions would have exceeded its actual emissions (52.3 million tonnes of CO2) by around 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Per capita greenhouse gas emissions fell from 7.8 to 6.4 tonnes. The 13% increase in the emissions generated by motor fuel as compared with 1990 was compensated for by the decreases in other sectors.

Availing of the Protocol's complementary instruments (flexible mechanisms)

Switzerland availed of the instruments authorised by the Kyoto Protocol to fulfil its target for 2008-2012. The purchase of certificates abroad - mainly using the proceeds of the ‘climate cent' levied by the private sector on motor fuels and, to a lesser extent, through the participation of Swiss companies in the emissions trading system - was calculated at a level of 2.5 million tonnes per year. The effect of the CO2 sink in Swiss forests was also taken into account at a rate of 1.6 million tonnes per year. Hence Switzerland was able to demonstrate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 9%, which is slightly higher than the Kyoto target of 8% (see Fact Sheet 1). The surplus will be carried over to the current period.

Commitment on the part of all sectors essential for 2013-2020

For the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, Switzerland has declared a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 20% compared with 1990, to be attained on average between 2013 and 2020. The same target is enshrined in the revised CO2 Act and, in accordance with the associated parliamentary resolution, should be attained through national emissions reduction measures by 2020. It will be possible to make up the difference between the two targets through the purchase of emissions certificates abroad.

"Switzerland is on the right road" said Bruno Oberle at the press conference. To reduce its emissions, it has established instruments in the industry, transport, construction energy, forestry and agriculture sectors (see Fact Sheet 2). These instruments work; emissions are declining. However, the new target is clearly more ambitious than that for 2008-2012. "To reinforce this trend, the commitment of all partners and the consistent implementation of measures are essential," said Bruno Oberle. Switzerland shows that growth and climate protection are compatible. "In the international context, it expects the other states to show a similar commitment," concluded Bruno Oberle.

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