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climate protection Popular initiative ‘for the glaciers’ launched

glacier

Emissions abroad count for two-thirds of Switzerland's climate footprint.

((c) Keystone / Valentin Flauraud)

The popular initiative to anchor climate protection in the constitution and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases by 2050 received the green light from the Swiss authorities. Supporters have until October 30, 2020 to collect the minimum 100,000 signatures.

On Tuesday, the text of the “Initiative for a Healthy Climate” was published in the Federal Gazette, the government's official bulletin. The initiative was launched by the Swiss Association for Climate Protection founded last year.

The association currently has 2,000 members and is supported by various environmental organizations as well as churches, scientists and academics. Several politicians are also on the initiative’s board.

+ Read more about how Switzerland ranks on climate protection measures

Presented last January, the initiative aims to elevate climate protection as a priority in political circles by enshrining the goals of the Paris Climate Agreementexternal link in the Swiss constitution. The text notes that climate policy aims to strengthen the economy and uses measures that promote innovation and technology. It acknowledges the need for exceptions when there is no adequate technical substitute.

According to the latest government figures, Switzerland’s total CO2 emissions, calculated in terms of its carbon footprint, was 116 million tonnes in 2015. Of these, 76 million tonnes were produced abroad.

First-ever global World Heritage glacier study

A reportexternal link published on Tuesday by the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that almost half of the glaciers in World Heritage Sites are set to disappear if CO2 emissions continue to rise at their current pace. The study looked at 46 World Heritage sites where glaciers are found, including the Great Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps, Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier and Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas.

The authors emphasise the key role that glaciers play for ecosystems and societies at a global scale. Glacier conservation could thus serve as a trigger to tackle the unprecedented issue of climate change. 

The authors of the study also developed the first ever inventory of glaciers on the UNESCO World Heritage list, documenting about 19,000 glaciers present in 46 out of the 247 natural World Heritage sites. 

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Keystone-SDA/jdp

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