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Fuel surcharge to be introduced from October

All fossil fuels will be subject to a tax or surcharge as Switzerland tries to meet its Kyoto obligations

(Keystone)

A tax of 1.5 centimes will be levied on every litre of petrol and diesel sold in Switzerland from October 1, with the aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, which it signed in 2003, Switzerland has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.8 million tons a year between 2008 and 2012.

The environment and energy minister, Moritz Leuenberger, and the foundation for a climate tax signed an agreement on Tuesday on introducing the surcharge.

Leuenberger's ministry said the tax would bring in revenues of about SFr100 million ($78.5 million) a year and would contribute towards reducing CO2 levels.

"The climate tax is a further important step forward in Switzerland's climate policy," Leuenberger said.

Last year the environment agency warned that Switzerland would not meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases unless it took further action.

The surcharge has been set at 1.5 centimes initially, but will later vary between 1.3 and 1.9 centimes.

Fossil fuels

The government decided in March to impose a charge on fossil fuels such as heating oil. At the same time it was decided to introduce a surcharge on petrol and diesel, which would be levied by a private body.

The foundation for a climate tax, which will be responsible for collecting the tax, is made up of representatives of industry, an association of oil and gas companies, the Swiss Business Federation (economiesuisse), and the Touring Club of Switzerland.

The foundation has been charged with overseeing projects to reduce Switzerland's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 0.2 million tons annually.

The government plans to cut a further 1.6 million tons of emissions through the purchase of CO2 trading certificates abroad, making up the total 1.8 million tons which must be saved under the Kyoto Protocol.

By 2010 Switzerland aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to ten per cent below 1990 levels.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

By 2010 Switzerland has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels to 10% below 1990 levels.
Additionally, between 2008 and 2012 CO2 emissions must be reduced by 1.8 million tons a year.
To achieve this a climate tax on petrol and diesel is being introduced. This is in addition to a surcharge on heating oil. If these measures prove inadequate a further tax could be levied on fuel for transport.
These measures will help fund climate projects or pay for the purchase of emissions certificates.

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In brief

Swiss business has agreed to introduce the climate tax. The government cannot influence the level of the tax or how the proceeds are spent.

The tax will apply to fossil fuels and be levied according to ton of CO2 produced.

The Kyoto Protocol came into effect in February 2005.

The Swiss parliament approved Kyoto with a large majority in 2003.

The protocol sets binding targets for industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

end of infobox


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