Navigation

Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Swiss clean air bid

The cabinet has announced the introduction of a new law aimed at cutting the levels of carbon dioxide. The law will bring Switzerland into line with targets for CO2 reduction adopted by the 1996 convention on climate change in Kyoto, Japan.

The cabinet has announced the introduction of a new law aimed at cutting the levels of carbon dioxide. The law will bring Switzerland into line with targets for CO2 reduction adopted by the 1996 convention on climate change in Kyoto, Japan.

The new legislation aims to cut CO2 emissions by 10 per cent of their 1990 levels by 2010. Most of the reductions are expected to be achieved by big energy consumers in heavy industry.

"But individual consumers can play a role too," said Thomas Stadler, of the federal office for the environment. "It's quite easy to cut down on burning heating oil without making your home uncomfortable. And people should consider buying cars which are more petrol efficient."

The Swiss government says it hopes the reductions will be achieved voluntarily, and is currently involved in talks with Swiss industry aimed at drawing up energy saving contracts. But the government said a polluter-pays-tax could be introduced in 2004 if CO2 reductions are not on target.

"It's a carrot and stick strategy," said Stadler, "the tax will come into force if our voluntary measures don't work."

The levels of the tax, which have already been set by the Swiss parliament, would fluctuate according to how much of the proposed CO2 reduction had been achieved voluntarily. At its highest, a company could be expected to pay 210 Swiss francs per tonne of CO2. This would mean the equivalent of an extra 50
centimes on the price of a litre of petrol.

"We're optimistic that we'll reach our targets for oil and gas voluntarily, but in the field of traffic we are not so sure," said Thomas Stadler. "Here I think we could realistically see a tax in 2004."

In a further encouragement towards reducing CO2 emissions, the government announced its support for a popular initiative aimed at increasing Switzerland's dependency on renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and water power.

And in other environment-related legislation, ministers approved legislation introducing a tax on waste dumps and on the export of waste. The law will come into effect next year. A spokesman for the government said the money raised from the taxes would be used to clean up the most dangerous dumps.

by Imogen Foulkes

×