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Passengers to pay a CO2 tax on plane tickets

People under at an airport departure board
The number of short-haul flights should be reduced to curb CO2 emissions according to Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. Keystone/Laurent Gillieron

The Swiss parliament has moved to impose an environmental tax on airline tickets, as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a proposal for a levy of between CHF30 and CHF120 ($32 and $126) per ticket for flights departing Switzerland.

The tax is expected to generate revenues of about CHF500 million a year. Half of this amount is to be refunded to Swiss citizens, according to a legal amendment under discussion in parliament.

Most parties supported the proposal, arguing it could help to reduce air travel, while the right-wing Swiss People’s Party unanimously came out against it, saying airlines would have to bear the brunt of the costs.

The Senate approved the proposal last September during an ongoing debate on a reform of the country’s CO2 law.

For its part, the House initially rejected the proposal in December 2018, but a majority of the centre-right Radical Party had a change of heart and agreed with supporters of the tax on the left.

Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga argued it was in Switzerland’s interest to join other European countries in levying an environmental surcharge. She said all transport sectors must contribute to the fight against climate change.

In a first reaction, environmental organisations welcomed the decision by parliament but called for higher taxes.

The legal amendment also includes a tax on fuel imports as well as the creation of a climate fund.

The number of Swiss airplane passengers has increased significantly over the past decade, according to official figures.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR