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Experts pour cold water on climate policy

More should be done to cut emissions, say experts Ex-press

Leading Swiss climate experts have come out in support of the environment ministry's proposals to combat global warming, but warn the plans do not go far enough.

The Advisory Body on Climate Change (OcCC) said the government needed to promote green measures and give them a legal basis. Long-term planning was also needed, it said.

The proposals, made by Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger last week, called for a tax on fossil fuels, heating oil and greenhouse gases to be introduced in Switzerland from 2012.

He said the measures would result in a 1.5 per cent reduction in emissions a year after the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol.

But at a news conference in the Swiss capital, Bern, on Friday, the OcCC – made up of academics, as well as members of private sector and the federal administration – said this was just a “minimum solution”.

The experts recommended that emissions should be reduced by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990 and by at least 60 per cent by 2050.

In line with Leuenberger, the advisory panel said it backed a tax on carbon dioxide.

But unlike the minister, it is in favour of raising petrol prices – even though higher petrol prices alone would not be enough, as the panel pointed out.

Stricter regulations

Strict regulations needed to be enforced urgently to lower greenhouse gas levels, “particularly in sectors needing long-term investments such as building and infrastructure”, the experts said. New technologies should also be supported.

The advisory body called for a mix of mandatory measures, based on the existing Swiss CO2 law, arguing Leuenberger’s proposals so far were simply not sufficient.

The expert panel suggested only importing “green” vehicles and building energy-saving houses in the future. Industry also needed to be convinced that cutting emissions would not be expensive, they said.

The OcCC wants the government to look further than the end of the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to run out in 2012.

“Many studies have shown that all the measures taken will have practically no impact in the coming years,” said the OcCC’s president, Kathy Riklin, adding that this was a reason to act quickly.

swissinfo with agencies

The Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the UN Convention on Climate Change, came into force in 2005. It has been ratified by industrialised countries – apart from the United States and Australia – and by many developing countries.

It calls for industrialised nations to reduce harmful emissions by around 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012.

The Swiss CO2 law came into effect in 2000. Its objective is to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 10% from 1990 levels by 2010. This is by voluntary measures, but the government may also introduce a disincentive tax on fossil energy.

On November 8 the government said that Switzerland had met its Kyoto Protocol targets – reducing greenhouse gases by 8% below the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR