Paris Agreement targets
NOTE: Switzerland submitted a further NDC update on December 17, 2021. Our analysis of that NDC submission will be available here.
This assessment includes our analysis for Switzerland from 30 November 2020 translated into our new rating methodology, though we have updated our analysis of the Swiss NDC based on the developments around the amended CO2 Act referendum. We will fully analyse Switzerland’s profile in the coming months, at which time the rating may change.
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 percent over the period 2021–2030. In absolute terms, this translates to emissions levels of at most 27-28 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. However, 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). It is now unclear whether this part of the CO2 Act will be kept or discarded in any subsequent iteration. For the purpose of this assessment, we assume the domestic component of Switzerland’s target reverts back to the 30% that was put forward by the Federal Council. The remaining 25% of Switzerland’s amended target was intended to be achieved through Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs). Switzerland signed bilateral agreements with Peru and Ghana in October and November 2020 respectively, which provide for cooperation on the transfer of mitigation outcomes.
The CAT rates Switzerland’s domestic target as “Almost sufficient” and its overall NDC target compared with its fair-share emissions allocation as “Insufficient.”
We rate the domestic component of Switzerland’s 2030 emissions target; a 30% 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.
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.
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 ramp up the level of its international climate finance contributions in the period post-2020.
Several recent developments indicate commitment to international climate finance. Switzerland is one of the only countries that has explicitly prioritized an equal distribution of adaptation and mitigation funding for public bilateral financing (Alliance Sud, 2020).
Switzerland has signed a bilateral carbon credit agreement with Peru, establishing cooperation for meeting their NDC. 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 100 billion goal and show no clear trend to increase. Switzerland government estimates its fair share of international finance contributions to be around CHF 450-600 million (Federal Council of Switzerland, 2017). Civil society organizations recommend a fair share of around CHF 1 billion per year (Alliance Sud, 2020). Recent contributions were on average CHF 300 million 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 100 billion goal in climate finance for developing countries per year through 2025, but the USD 100 billion goal on itself is insufficient in the period post-2020. Switzerland has increased its previous commitment to CHF 400 million per year across 2021-2024. They also intend to mobilize 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.
Last NDC update
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 “at least” a 50% reduction. The domestic component of the target increased from 60% to 75%, but as this has since been rejected in a June 2021 referendum, it is not clear whether this will be reintroduced with subsequent legislation yet to be formulated. We therefore assume for now that the old 60% component still applies, which represents a 30% domestic reduction and a 20% reduction achieved through emissions reductions occurring overseas.
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.
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.