Jump to content
Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]

Sounding the alarm

Study says CO2 emissions need more drastic cuts

Switzerland failed to meet its target for CO2 reductions in 2012 (Keystone)

Switzerland failed to meet its target for CO2 reductions in 2012


Climate experts in Bern have warned that limiting the rise in global temperature will not be enough to protect the climate system as a whole from the dangerous impact caused by human activity.

Most countries have accepted that greenhouse gas emissions should be stabilised so that the average global temperature rises by no more than two degrees in comparison with the beginning of industrialisation.

However, in their study published in the specialist journal Naturethe experts, from Bern University’s Oeschger Centre for Climate Research,say such phenomena as the rise in sea level, the acidification of the oceans – which among other things threatens coral reefs – and poor harvests cannot be avoided simply by aiming for this global temperature target.

It is essential to reduce CO2 emissions yet further, they say. They have produced model calculations on the basis of a wide range of scenarios, to show what emissions would be admissible in order to protect the climate system as a whole, which – as defined by the United Nations in 1992 – includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere and the interactions between them.

“We have been able to show what level of CO2 emissions in the coming decades would be acceptable it we are to achieve each one of the additional climate goals, such as a consistent level of agricultural production and the stabilisation of the oceans,” writes lead author Marco Steinacher in a press release on the study.

“If we take all the goals together into account, the reduction in CO2 emissions must be twice as much as it needs to be simply to reach the two degree goal,” he says.


The computer simulations show that the biggest challenge, and the one requiring the most massive reduction in CO2 emissions, is to stop the acidification of the oceans.

The three researchers say further studies need to be carried out and relevant climate targets set.

They point out that decisions on the level of change that is acceptable lie with politicians and society, but say that constantly rising emissions are steadily narrowing their room for manoeuvre.

Meanwhile, the Federal Environment Office announced on Wednesday that Switzerland failed to meet its target for CO2 reductions in 2012. The CO2 levy will therefore be raised from CHF36 ($38) to CHF60 per tonne next year.

The CO2 levy on fossil combustible fuels, such as heating oil and natural gas, was introduced in Switzerland in 2008 to help achieve statutory CO2 emission targets.




All rights reserved. The content of the website by swissinfo.ch is copyrighted. It is intended for private use only. Any other use of the website content beyond the use stipulated above, particularly the distribution, modification, transmission, storage and copying requires prior written consent of swissinfo.ch. Should you be interested in any such use of the website content, please contact us via contact@swissinfo.ch.

As regards the use for private purposes, it is only permitted to use a hyperlink to specific content, and to place it on your own website or a website of third parties. The swissinfo.ch website content may only be embedded in an ad-free environment without any modifications. Specifically applying to all software, folders, data and their content provided for download by the swissinfo.ch website, a basic, non-exclusive and non-transferable license is granted that is restricted to the one-time downloading and saving of said data on private devices. All other rights remain the property of swissinfo.ch. In particular, any sale or commercial use of these data is prohibited.