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Emissions abroad account for two-thirds of Swiss carbon footprint

A picture of a smoking chimney
Since the Swiss economy is very export-oriented, there is a considerable difference between the country’s carbon footprint and its greenhouse gas inventory, Keystone

A pioneering analysis by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) published on Tuesday found that the greenhouse gases behind the country’s economy were largely emitted abroad.

Switzerland’s total CO2 emissions, calculated in terms of its carbon footprintExternal link, was 116 million tonnes in 2015. Of these, 76 million tonnes were produced abroad, according to the figures in the report. The carbon footprint is a measure which takes into account the total quantity of greenhouse gases emitted both home and abroad in order to fulfil its demand for goods and services. By contrast, a greenhouse gas inventory, drawn up under the Kyoto Protocol only takes into account domestic CO2 emissions.  

+Learn more about the Swiss government’s climate change targets

Since the Swiss economy is very export-oriented, there is a considerable difference between the country’s carbon footprint and the greenhouse gas inventory, the study said. Both these measures also developed differently over the last decade. Switzerland’s total footprint increased by 7% between 2008 and 2015. Conversely, the share of domestic emissions fell from 40% in 2008 to 35% in 2015.

Last December, the Federal Council (Switzerland’s seven-member executive), proposed a series of drastic measures to protect the climate to parliament. Its goal is to halve the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Of these reductions, at least 60% should be made within the country itself, as opposed to reducing emissions abroad.

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