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Report says Swiss need to make transport even kinder to the environment

The report says 13 per cent of environmental pollution is caused by air travel

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland could be doing more to make transport in the country more environmentally friendly, according to a new study. The report is the result of four years of research on Swiss transport policy and its environmental impact.

The National Science Foundation funded the study, known as Project 41. It looked at different means of transport, ranging from the automobile to air travel, and assessed what could be done to reduce their negative environmental impact.

The Project 41 team found that around 60 per cent of journeys made within Switzerland are for leisure reasons, and that they cause serious jams in the country's transport system. They also revealed that air transport is responsible for 13 per cent of climatic pollution.

Environmental damage caused by transport already measured SFr10 billion in 1995, and is expected to continue to rise until 2005.

While Switzerland's current transport policy was praised as being kinder to the environment than that of many of its European neighbours, there were several areas for improvement, the report said.

In particular, the authors said that the country should apply in a stricter way the "polluter pays" principle, in order to make people aware of the damage they cause when travelling.

But they said it was not only the job of the authorities to hit the polluters, but also of transporters themselves. Both needed to steer the public towards more environmentally friendly means of transport, such as car sharing.

New technology should also be used to provide cleaner transport, developing less-polluting engines and improving rapid rail services.

The Project 41 team also said Switzerland should adopt a more pan-European approach in its policy. The country needed to anticipate European Union transport policy, to participate in transport projects with the EU, but also to defend an environmentally friendly policy.

The Swiss authorities say that they have already included several of the report's recommendations in their future transport strategy.

swissinfo with agencies


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