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Swiss car emissions targets missed despite sanctions

Cars driving on street in Zurich
Most people in Switzerland are still buying cars with higher than recommended CO2 emissions. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The average CO2 emissions of new cars in Switzerland fell more than 10% last year to 123.6 grams per kilometre - but still missed a target of 95g/km.

This is despite CHF132.5 million ($143 million) in financial penalties being levied on passenger car importers in 2020. That was well over the CHF78.1 million imposed in 2019.

Importers of commercial vans and lorries were hit with another CHF15.7 million in sanctions as emissions from this category of vehicle dropped slightly to 176.4g/km – some way short of the 147g/km target set in 2020 by the government.

CO2 emissions from cars is decreasing, but not at a fast enough rate, stated a government press releaseExternal link on Friday.

CO2 law rejected

Some 238,000 new passenger cars were registered in Switzerland last year, around a quarter less than in 2019. The proportion of electric cars (battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) increased significantly in 2020 to 14.4% (2019: 5.6%). The share of diesel vehicles fell slightly to 23.9%.

The coronavirus pandemic was responsible for much of the decrease in car registrations as people faced economic uncertainty and were restricted from travelling during lockdowns.

Earlier this year, the Federal Statistical Office said that four out of five new cars registered last year exceeded the 95g/km target.

Switzerland wants to become carbon neutral by 2050. Transport plays a key role, as it is responsible for one-third of CO2 emissions – more than any other sector.

In June, Swiss voters rejected plans to introduce a new CO2 act that would, among other measures, have imposed tougher targets on car importers.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR