Swiss climate policy will be strongly influenced by a public referendum in May 2017 on the proposed revision of the Swiss energy law, a first step in implementing its Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and production of renewable energy, and prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants and could, if implemented, decrease Swiss emissions. It includes a continuation of the Swiss building programme which was due to finish at the end of 2019.
With its currently implemented policies and measures, Switzerland will meet the domestic emissions target set out in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). We rate Switzerland’s INDC “Insufficient,” meaning that Switzerland’s climate plans are not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and are instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C.
Switzerland also communicated an indicative emissions reduction target of 35% for 2025 below 1990 levels. Previously, Switzerland had made an unconditional commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to decrease emissions by 20%–30% below 1990 levels by 2020.
Paris Agreement targets
As of 12 October 2016 Switzerland has not yet ratified the Paris Agreement, even though it was the first country to submit an INDC to the UNFCCC (on 27th February 2015), announcing an emissions reduction of 50% by 2030 (excluding LULUCF) with at least 30% to be achieved domestically and the rest through emissions reductions abroad. The INDC further anticipates a reduction of 35% below 1990 levels by 2025.
Switzerland intends to use carbon credits from international mechanisms (Clean Development Mechanism, as well as new market mechanisms under the Convention, such as NMM and activities under the FVA) and states it will apply quality criteria that are at least in line with those of Switzerland’s current national legislation.
To nationally implement its INDC, Switzerland drew up a draft for consultation at national level, which is currently underway.
2020 pledge and Kyoto target
Switzerland agreed to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol for a second commitment period (2013–2020), as proposed at the COP 18 in Doha. Switzerland submitted a QELRO  level of 84.2, meaning that it proposes that its average yearly emissions for the period 2013–2020 will be 84.2% of 1990 levels.
Switzerland's commitment under the Convention (Copenhagen Pledge) for 2020 is to reduce emissions in the range of 20% to 30% below 1990 emissions (excluding LULUCF). While the 20% reduction commitment is unconditional, the 30% is conditional on a global and comprehensive climate agreement. According to Switzerland’s submission, such an agreement would include other developed countries pledging comparable emissions reductions, and developing countries contributing according to their capabilities.
Switzerland’s INDC contains an indicative long-term goal to reduce emissions by 2050 to 70%–85% below 1990 levels by 2050, including use of international credits.
 The quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QELRO), expressed as a percentage in relation to a base year, denotes the average level of emissions that an Annex B Party could emit on an annual basis during a given commitment period.
We rate Switzerland’s INDC “Insufficient.” The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Switzerland’s climate commitment in 2017 is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and is instead consistent with warming between 2°C and 3°C. If all countries were to follow Switzerland’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. This means Switzerland’s climate commitment is at the least stringent end of what would be a fair share of global effort, and is not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5?C limit, unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort.
If the CAT were to rate Switzerland’s projected emissions levels in 2017 under current policies, Switzerland’s would also be rated “Insufficient.
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
With currently implemented policies (based on the “with existing measures” scenario of the 2nd Biennial Report), Switzerland is expected to reach an emissions level of 44 MtCO2e by 2020 and 37 MtCO2e by 2030 (excluding LULUCF).
With currently implemented policies and measures Switzerland will meet its domestic target of a 30% reduction below 1990 levels. In order to further decrease national emissions, Switzerland is in the process of designing new climate policies. It is currently running a national consultation (until the end of November 2016) on the ratification of the Paris Agreement, the revision of the CO2 law and the proposal to connect the emissions trading system with that of the European Union (Bundesrat, 2016). The proposal reflects the INDC target and suggests that in 2030, national emissions should be at least 30% below 1990 levels; a maximum of 20% of the abatement task could be reached through the use of flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol (e.g. Certified Emission Reductions and Emission Reduction Units).
To support the Energy Strategy 2050, the revision of the CO2 law aims to maintain and improve existing measures, as well as to define intermediate targets. Particular attention is placed on emissions from buildings (energy efficiency), transport, industry and agriculture. The current building program, which supports the renovation of buildings through financial incentives (paid through the CO2 tax) is planned to be phased out in 2025. If the emissions reductions achieved are insufficient, the Government reserves the right to prohibit fossil fuel-based heating systems in new buildings, and as replacements in existing buildings from 2029.
The core of the proposal concerning the emissions trading scheme is the mutual recognition of Swiss and European emissions rights. Companies could then trade emissions on a bigger market; an Agreement with the EU has already been negotiated but is on hold. To link the two systems, Switzerland would have to include the aviation sector in its emissions trading scheme (a corresponding reform is included in the revision of the CO2 law).
We calculated targets for 2020, 2025, and 2030 from the most recent national inventory submissions (2016) 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 (e.g. forest fires) in calculating their reference level.
Current policy projections
Greenhouse gas emission inventories are available from 1990 to 2014 in the CRF 2016 submitted to UNFCCC. We use these historical values up to 2014 and then use growth rates based on the “with measures” scenario submitted to the UNFCCC in Switzerland’s second biennial report (Switzerland, 2016), where currently implemented and adopted measures are encompassed.
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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
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Government of Switzerland (2010b). Forest Management reference level provided in presentation to Forest management accounting pre-sessional workshop on 30 July 2010
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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
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