Page last updated: 20th November 2013



Switzerland has made an unconditional commitment to decrease emissions by 20% relative to 1990 emission. The national goal is to achieve this pledge domestically, without buying credits from abroad. With currently implemented policies and measures it will not be able to meet this target. Current trends project a decrease in emissions below 1990 levels of about 13.6% by 2020, leaving 5 MtCO2e to reach the pledge.


Pledge description

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Switzerland submitted a QELRO level of 84.2 for the second commitment period, meaning that Switzerland’s yearly emissions during the period of 2013-2020 are proposed to be 84.2% of 1990 levels.

Switzerland’s current target in the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is an 8% reduction.

Switzerland's preferred LULUCF option allows for a very small credit from accounting in 2020. LULUCF accounting was calculated based on Party-provided projections.  If instead future emissions were to follow a historical mean, small debits could result. In addition, Switzerland supports proposals to remove emissions from natural disturbances and to count removals from harvested wood products. This has not been accounted for here, but could lead to higher credits (or lower debits).

Switzerland's commitment under the Convention for 2020 is to reduce emissions in the range of 20% to 30% relative to 1990 emissions. The -20% commitment is unconditional whilst the -30% is conditional on a global and comprehensive agreement.  In such an agreement, other developed countries pledge comparable emission reductions, developing countries contribute according to their capabilities, and bunker fuels form part of global reduction objectives covered under a sectoral approach. Switzerland's Governmental processes on a 2050 target or goal are proceeding and not yet concluded, however, there are strong indications this will converge on a range of -80 to -95% from 1990 levels, as recently adopted by the European Union.


Current trend description

With currently implemented policies, Switzerland is expected to reach 45.7 MtCO2e emissions in 2020 (excluding LULUCF). This constitutes a decrease of 13.6% in relation to 1990 levels. Additional reductions are expected from the use of flexible mechanisms through the compensation requirements imposed on fossil transport fuels.

Historic emissions have fluctuated strongly without showing a clear trend. After a substantial drop in emissions in the early 1990s, emissions increased slightly, but with large annual variation. After a 3.3% increase in emissions between 2009 and 2010 in the recovery phase of the financial crisis, emissions dropped sharply by 7.5% in 2011.

The projection used in our analysis is mainly taken from the scenario “with additional measures” in the NC5. It includes the following measures: the continuation of the CO2 levy, the building programme, a cap-and-trade system for energy-intensive companies, emission standards for new cars, a deposit on synthetic greenhouse gases, and the use of the flexible mechanisms to partially compensate for emissions from the transport sector.

The overall effect of policies and measures implemented since 1990 is estimated at around 10 MtCO2e by 2020. The largest reductions result from policies related to energy use and taxes (FOEN, 2009, Energiestrategie 2050).

Date of pledge
May 2012



Targets for 2020 were calculated from the most recent national inventory submissions (2013) and based on the latest UNFCCC information on Convention pledges and Kyoto targets.

We calculated Switzerland's LULUCF accounting quantities in 2020 for afforestation, reforestation and deforestation using the current Kyoto rules and for forest management using a net-net approach with a projected reference level for 2013-2020. Switzerland has excluded emissions from extreme events in calculating their reference level.

Current trend

Greenhouse gas emission inventories are available from 1990 to 2011 in the CRF 2013 submitted to UNFCCC. We use these historic values up to 2011 and then use growth rates based on Switzerland’s Fifth National Communication under the UNFCCC, published in 2009.


CRF (2013). UNFCCC AWG-KP Submissions 2013. Common Reporting Format.

European Environmental Agency (2011). Survey of resource effiency policies in EEA member and cooperating countries. Country profile: Switzerland

Federal Office for the Environment (2009). Switzerland’s Fifth National Communication under the UNFCCC, Bern.

Government of Switzerland (2012a) Information by Parties included in Annex I listed in annex 1 to decision 1/CMP.7 on their quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol

Government of Switzerland (2012b) Submission to the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP): Information by Parties included in Annex I listed in annex 1 to decision 1/CMP.7 on their quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, 4 May 2012

Government of Switzerland (2011) Switzerland's submission on reference levels as an accounting approach for forest management under the Kyoto Protocol

Government of Switzerland (2010a). Switzerland's pledge to the Copenhagen Accord. Compiled in: Compilation of economy-wide emission reduction targets to be implemented by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, UNFCCC (2011).

Government of Switzerland (2010b). Forest Management reference level provided in presentation to Forest management accounting pre-sessional workshop on 30 July 2010

Government of Switzerland (2009a) Federal Act on the Reduction of CO2 Emissions (CO2 Act)

Government of Switzerland (2009b). Submission on Possible Options for Consideration Relating to Land-Use, Land-use Change and Forestry. 16 February 2009, FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/MISC.5

Switzerland (2009c) Joint submission by Australia, Belarus, Canada, Croatia, the European Community and its Member States, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Ukraine. Information relating to possible quantified emissions limitation and reduction objectives as submitted by Parties, Submission to the AWG-LCA ,,28 September to 9 October 2009

Ministerium für Umwelt, Transport, Energie und Kommunikation(2012): “Energiestrategie 2050: Erstes Massnahmenpaket.