Planned cuts in greenhouse gas heats up debate

The Swiss government aims at a reduction of at least 20 per cent by 2020 in carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in line with the European Union.

This content was published on August 27, 2009 - 11:16

Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger said the target was ambitious compared with other countries in the world.

He called on parliament not to jeopardise a compromise reached after long discussions in the cabinet over targets and concrete measures.

"The draft law is the most important instrument to cut greenhouse gases and help limit a hike in temperatures to less than two centigrade," Leuenberger told a news conference on Wednesday.

Under the proposals a CO2 levy on heating oil will be extended beyond 2012 and the government is reserving the right to impose a tax on petrol and diesel.

At least 25 per cent of fossil fuel emissions have to be compensated by measures in Switzerland or abroad. Binding emission targets are foreseen for new cars.

But the government wants to abolish the climate centime – a voluntary levy by the industry on greenhouse gases emissions.

Environmental groups and centre-left political parties have dismissed the plans as insufficient and accused the government of caving in to pressure by the business community.

The organisations want emission cuts of at least 30 per cent and have collected enough signature to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

However, the Swiss Business Federation said the government target was moderate and realistic.

An international climate conference is scheduled in Denmark next December to discuss climate change.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch

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