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Downgrade Switzerland drops in climate ranking


The rapid growth of air travel for business and leisure contributes to an increase in pollution attributable to aviation

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s climate protection rating has dropped because of its high air transport emissions, its international climate policy and because it has not sufficiently expanded into renewable sources like solar and wind energy.

Switzerland declined from rank 8 to rank 11 in the 2015 results of the Climate Change Performance Index, compiled annually by the Climate Action Networks (CAN Europe)external link and development organisation Germanwatchexternal link. The results are presented at the United Nations Climate conference in Lima on Monday.

The ranking of 58 nations is led by Denmark, Sweden and Britain. Even Morocco is ahead of Switzerland because it has massively invested in solar and wind energy. Saudi Arabia is at the bottom of the ranking.

Despite its “good” overall performance, the authors of the report criticise Switzerland’s efforts. Responsible for part of its poor performance are Switzerland’s emissions from air transport, which make up 16% of its burden on the climate, according to Philip Gehri from WWF Switzerland.

“In Switzerland people fly twice as much as in neighbouring countries like Germany and France,” Gehri explained. “And the majority of those flights are for leisure and not for business.”

Switzerland also dropped in the ranking because its cabinet decided not to increase its greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2020, despite this being included in Swiss law. In 2015 the government will set a new reduction target for 2030.

Room for improvement

Thanks to its commitment to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewable sources, Switzerland did improve its ranking in the area of national climate policy. This energy turnaround is also expected to improve its ranking regarding the exploitation of renewable energies, where it currently lags behind most other countries, WWF said.

“We have the confirmation today, that a better world is possible,” said Patrick Hofstetter, head of Climate and Energy at WWF Switzerland. “With an effective new global climate agreement and our Swiss energy transition we will move closer to that goal.”

The international community wants to keep global warming below two degrees, which means that by 2030 Switzerland would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.

Denmark tops the ranking published on Monday because wind energy has become both its major and its least expensive form of energy. And the Nordic country managed to lower its electricity use despite economic and population growth, the report said.

Sweden, which lowered its emissions by 70% in five years by systematically reducing its use of gas and oil for heating, ranked second behind Denmark.

The ranking compares carbon dioxide emission per person, the development of CO2 emissions and the countries’ climate policies. It never assigns ranks one to three in order to emphasise that no country has ever done enough to reach the climate goals.

Ranking
1.-3. Not assigned
4. Denmark
5. Sweden
6. Great Britain
7. Portugal
8. Cyprus
9. Morocco
10. Ireland
11. Switzerland
22. Germany
44. United States
45. China
61. Saudi Arabia

end of infobox

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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