Swiss ‘must do more for environment’, says report

Uphill battle: a skier on the Tschentenalp above Adelboden in October Keystone

Although Switzerland can point to successes in its environmental policy, more needs to be done, especially when it comes to consumer behaviour and natural resources, according to a government report. 


Switzerland currently operates as though it had three planets at its disposal. A change in consumption and production is therefore necessary to spare the environment and resources, the Federal Council wrote in “Switzerland and the Environment 2018”, published on Monday. 

+ Switzerland's use of the world's resources

Three-quarters of Switzerland’s total environmental impact is generated abroad, where it has a negative effect on the climate, biodiversity and the availability of water, the report said. Nutrition has the most significant impact on the environment at home and abroad with a share of 28%, followed by housing (24%) and mobility (12%). 

The authors said the biggest challenges were increasing soil consumption, over-fertilisation of ecosystems, climate change, increasing amounts of waste and the loss of biodiversity. They said these factors were not only stressful for health, they also resulted in high costs. 

The Federal Council said this was why climate protection, the efficient use of resources and the preservation of biodiversity were at the centre of its environmental policy. 

The report highlighted achievements of the Swiss environmental policy, which were thanks to technical measures and legal requirements. Most forests were healthy, it said, and there were fewer contaminated sites. In addition, Switzerland had succeeded in decoupling energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth. 

Parliamentary debate 

On Monday, the House of Representatives starts discussing the revision of the carbon dioxide reduction law, which is the government’s main tool for reaching its greenhouse gas emissions goals. The law has been in force since 2011 and obliges all sectors, from traffic to industry, to take measures. 

Issues to be debated include the distribution of emission reduction targets between Switzerland and abroad, the rise in fuel prices and the introduction of an environmental tax on flights. 

Parties on the right fear such measures will hurt Switzerland’s economic competitivity, whereas those on the left say they don’t go far enough.

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