Switzerland

Overall rating
Insufficient
Policies & action
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Domestic target
Almost Sufficient
< 2°C World
Fair share target
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Climate finance
Highly insufficient
Net zero target

year

2050

Comprehensiveness rated as

Average
Land use & forestry
Not significant

Target Overview

Switzerland submitted its updated NDC to the UNFCCC 9 December 2020, with a slight change from a 50% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030 to “at least 50%” below 1990 levels. This corresponds to an average reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35% over the period 2021–2030. In absolute terms, this translates to emissions levels of at most 26-27 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF by 2030. Switzerland has also committed to reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050, which is an enhancement of its previous objective of reducing emissions 70 to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In its updated NDC, Switzerland aimed to increase the domestic emissions reduction component of its 2030 target to 75%, an increase of 15 percentage points from its previous 60% share, with the remaining emissions reductions under its overall 50% target to come from abroad, based on bilateral agreements. This increase in its domestic emissions reduction was part of the proposed amended CO2 Act, which was rejected in a referendum in June 2021 (US Library of Congress, 2021).

A proposed revision to the CO2 Act, released in December 2021, targets a 33% reduction in domestic emissions, which constitutes two thirds of the overall emissions reduction in its 50% target (Swiss Confederation, 2021a). A further update to its NDC was made which removed reference to the increased domestic emissions reduction that was included in its 2020 submission. This amended NDC was submitted to the UNFCCC on 17 December 2021 (Swiss Government, 2021b).

CAT rating of targets

NDC description

Switzerland submitted its updated NDC to the UNFCCC 9 December 2020, with a slight change from a 50% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030 to “at least 50%” below 1990 levels. This corresponds to an average reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35% over the period 2021–2030. In absolute terms, this translates to emissions levels of at most 26-27 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF by 2030. Switzerland has also committed to reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050, which is an enhancement of its previous objective of reducing emissions 70 to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In its updated NDC, Switzerland aimed to increase the domestic emissions reduction component of its 2030 target to 75%, an increase of 15 percentage points from its previous 60% share, with the remaining emissions reductions under its overall 50% target to come from abroad, based on bilateral agreements. This increase in its domestic emissions reduction was part of the proposed amended CO2 Act, which was rejected in a referendum in June 2021 (US Library of Congress, 2021).

A proposed revision to the CO2 Act, released in December 2021, targets a 33% reduction in domestic emissions, which constitutes two thirds of the overall emissions reduction in its 50% target (Swiss Confederation, 2021a). A further update to its NDC was made which removed reference to the increased domestic emissions reduction that was included in its 2020 submission. This amended NDC was submitted to the UNFCCC on 17 December 2021 (Swiss Government, 2021b).

Switzerland intends to achieve the remaining 34% of its amended target through Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs). Switzerland signed bilateral agreements with several countries including Peru, Ghana, Senegal, Georgia, Vanuatu, and Dominica since October 2020, which provide for cooperation on the transfer of mitigation outcomes.

The CAT rates Switzerland’s proposed domestic target as “Almost sufficient” and its overall NDC target compared with its fair-share emissions allocation as “Insufficient.”

Domestic target:
Almost Sufficient

We rate the proposed domestic component of Switzerland’s 2030 emissions target, a 33% reduction below 1990 levels, as “Almost sufficient” when compared with modelled domestic emissions pathways. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that Switzerland’s domestic target in 2030 is not yet consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit but could be, with moderate improvements. If all countries were to follow Switzerland’s approach, warming could be held below—but not well below—2°C.

Fair share target:
Insufficient

We rate Switzerland’s overall NDC target as “Insufficient” when compared with its fair-share emissions allocation. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Switzerland’s NDC needs substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. Some of these improvements should be made to the domestic emissions target itself, others could come in the form of additional support for emissions reductions achieved in developing countries in the form of finance. If all countries were to follow Switzerland’s approach, warming would reach up to 3°C.

Switzerland’s international climate finance is rated “Highly insufficient” (see below) and is not enough to improve Switzerland’s fair share rating.

Climate finance:
Highly insufficient

Switzerland’s international public climate finance contributions is rated “Highly insufficient”. Switzerland has committed to increase its climate finance but contributions to date have been very low compared to its fair share. To improve its rating Switzerland needs to ramp up the level of its international climate finance contributions in the period post-2020.

Several recent developments indicate a commitment to international climate finance. Switzerland is one of the only countries that has explicitly prioritised an equal distribution of adaptation and mitigation funding for public bilateral financing (Alliance Sud, 2020).

To fulfil the non-domestic component of its emissions reduction target, Switzerland has signed bilateral carbon credit agreements with Peru, Ghana, Senegal, Georgia, Vanuatu, and Dominica establishing cooperation for meeting its NDC (IHS Markit, 2021). These developments are not rated in this component of the CAT rating. Instead, the full international NDC, that includes such agreements, is rated against Switzerland’s fair share goal.

However, contributions fall short of Switzerland’s fair share contribution to the USD 100bn goal and show no clear increasing trend. The Swiss government estimates its fair share of international finance contributions to be around CHF 450-600m (Federal Council of Switzerland, 2017). Civil society organisations recommend a fair share of around CHF 1 bn per year (Alliance Sud, 2020). Recent contributions were on average CHF 300m per year from 2017-2020 (Eckstein et al., 2021). A clear and sustained increase in international climate mitigation finance is fundamental in the period post-2020.

Switzerland remains committed to the USD 100bn goal in climate finance for developing countries per year through 2025, but the USD 100bn goal on itself is insufficient in the period post-2020. Switzerland has increased its previous commitment to CHF 400m per year across 2021-2024 (Government of Switzerland, 2020). They also intend to mobilise most of its finance through grants in this period. This scale of financial contributions would remain insufficient to increase Switzerland’s CAT climate finance rating.

Switzerland has yet to commit to stop funding fossil fuels abroad, but the CAT has not found evidence of continued international fossil finance.

Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled pathways and fair share) can be found here.

NDC Updates

The December 2020 update to Switzerland’s NDC target did not represent an increase in ambition, as it changed only from a 50% reduction below 1990 levels to an “at least” 50% reduction. The domestic component of the target increased from 60% to 75%, but after its rejection in a June 2021 referendum, proposed alternative legislation targets a 66% component. This represents a 33% domestic reduction and a 17% reduction achieved through emissions reductions occurring overseas. A further update to Switzerland’s NDC in December 2021 removed specific reference to a domestic component to its overall target, but we take the target as it appears in the proposed CO2 Act.

Net zero and other long-term target(s)

In August 2019, the Vice President of the Swiss Federal Council announced an indicative target of emissions neutrality for Switzerland by 2050, updating its previous target of a 70-85% reduction below 1990 levels (Krummenacher, 2019). Its long-term climate strategy was submitted to the UNFCCC in January 2021. It outlined a number of sectoral goals and challenges among other details.

For the full analysis click here.

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