Pledges And Targets
Paris Agreement target
NDC update: In December 2020, Switzerland submitted an updated NDC. Our analysis of its new NDC is here.
The Swiss government ratified the Paris Agreement in 2017. Its NDC commits Switzerland to an emissions reduction of 50% below 1990 levels by 2030. This goal is further specified by a statement that between 2021 and 2030 emissions are to be reduced on average by 35% below 1990 levels. The NDC further specifies that much of the 50% emissions reduction target should be met through cutting domestic emissions, though it did not quantify a specific amount (UNFCCC, 2015).
The reform of the CO2 Act recently passed by the Swiss parliament, but still to be approved in a referendum reiterates the 50% emissions reduction goal, and specifies that at least 75% of the emissions reduction should take place domestically, an increase from the previous 60% stipulated in the Act. The rest should be covered by carbon credits from abroad that deliver emission reductions that “would not have come about without proceeds from the sale of the international certificate”, and that “contribute to sustainable development in the country of sale” (Schweizer Parlament, 2020a).
Switzerland’s emissions reduction goal for 2030 includes a net change in emissions from forest and land-use between 1990 and 2030. The NDC is not clear on emissions from non-forest land use, stating that the emissions “will be included, as necessary” (UNFCCC, 2015). With the exception of 2000, emissions from the LULUCF sector in Switzerland have been negative and amounted to between 1 and 6% of overall emissions (Bundesamt für Umwelt, 2019b).
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 QELRO1 level of 84.2, meaning 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 by between 20% and 30% below 1990 levels. 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. In its 6th National Communication Switzerland restated the 20% reduction commitment, with the possibility that this “could be increased up to 30%”, however this language was dropped from its subsequent 7th National Communication and is also absent from its most recent 4th Biennial Report. For this reason, we have removed the 30% component of the 2020 pledge from this assessment.
1 | 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
Switzerland’s NDC contains an indicative long-term goal to reduce emissions 70%–85% below 1990 levels by 2050, including use of international credits. In August 2019, the Vice President of the Swiss Federal Council announced the goal of emissions neutrality for Switzerland by 2050 (Krummenacher, 2019). Further details about the carbon neutrality goal will be provided in the Climate Strategy 2050 that is to be adopted by the end of 2020 (Binswanger, 2019).