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CO2 tax needed to meet Kyoto target

Motorised traffic is still considered one of the main culprits Keystone

Switzerland will not meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gases unless it takes further action.

The Swiss environment agency has called for the implementation of a government plan for taxes on fossil fuels in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to ten per cent below 1990 levels by 2010.

The agency said on Tuesday that there would be a slight decrease in Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, but that it would still be short of its target by 2.5 million tons.

To meet Switzerland’s commitment to Kyoto laid out in a law introduced five years ago, CO2 emissions cannot exceed 48.25 million tons.

The agency added that the goal could only be reached if parliament approves a government plan for a nine-centime tax on heating oil and a 1.6 centime levy on petrol and diesel imports.

Too little, too much

The cabinet wants to introduce the taxes next year but faces opposition in parliament from left-wing politicians, who say the tax does not go far enough, and from members of right-wing parties with ties to the business community, who claim the taxes will hurt small and medium-sized companies.

The environment minister, Moritz Leuenberger, has warned that if the taxes were introduced at the proposed rate but failed to make an impact by 2007, the cabinet would then consider introducing a CO2 levy on motor fuels.

The environment agency forecasts that by 2010, Switzerland will have achieved a two per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, which accounts for 85 per cent of greenhouse gases.

The figure is based on a seven and eight per cent decrease in heating oil and industrial processes respectively, and an eight per cent rise in the use of motor fuels.

The CO2 law specifies a variety of instruments to reduce emissions, including the taxes outlined by the government, measures taken under a Swiss law on energy, voluntary efforts by the business community and flexible mechanisms provided for in the Kyoto Protocol.

swissinfo with agencies

Industrialised countries committed themselves to reducing greenhouse gases at Kyoto, Japan in 1997, to combat global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol calls for industrialised nations to reduce harmful emissions by an average 5.2% by 2012.
The accord concerns CO2, methane, nitrogen oxide and three synthetic gases.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR