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Swiss told to do more to reduce CO2

The report says Swiss industries must do more to reduce CO2 emissions swissinfo C Helmle

A new report says Switzerland needs to take tougher action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the required ten per cent by 2010.

This content was published on July 4, 2003 - 14:48

It warns that unless energy and transport policy change, levels will drop by only 1.3 per cent over the next eight years.

The report, entitled “Potential for the reduction of CO2 emissions in Switzerland from now until 2010”, was published on Friday by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Eberhard Jochem, author of the report, says the current rate of progress is cause for concern.

"During the last ten years CO2 levels have more or less stagnated at the same level as 1990," he told swissinfo. "This means that quite a bit of time has passed without success."

The report suggests energy sources, such as natural gas and wood, should be used in place of petrol, diesel and heating oil.

Another solution, it adds, would be to introduce from 2005 a tax of SFr50 ($37) per ton of CO2 emitted by fossil fuels, and SFr100 per ton for petrol and diesel.

The report calls for greater cooperation between the private and public sectors to bring CO2 levels down.

But Jochem says the main onus is on the government to introduce more rigorous measures.

"The question now is what other policies and instruments will the Swiss government take up. There are still possibilities for the government."

Government action

The requirement to reduce CO2 emissions by 2010 is enshrined in Swiss law. Emission levels must drop by four million tons by 2010, corresponding to a 15 per cent drop from 1990.

But, according to researchers, emissions barely dropped by one million tons over the period 1990 to 2001. They warn that at this rate Switzerland has no chance of meeting its target.

The study insists that taking the necessary steps to meet the 2010 target would not impose big demands on the economy.

The extra money spent on developing renewable energy sources would be made up by making the air cleaner. The drop in medical bills would be the most noticeable cost reduction, says the report.

It also claims that new jobs would be created as a result of bringing in “cleaner” fuel.

In response to the report, the Swiss environment agency admitted it had its work cut out.

"We agree completely with the study," said Paul Filliger, a scientist working for the agency."If there are no additional measures the target of the CO2 law or the targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol will not be met by Switzerland."

Swiss initiatives

Filliger added that the agency was in the process of implementing a range of new measures designed to accelerate the decrease in emissions.

The measures voluntary agreement with car importers.

If these agreements fail to reduce emissions sufficiently, he said, then a CO2 tax, similar to the one suggested in the report, although no charges have been decided upon.

The cabinet is due to make a decision on whether to introduce the tax at the beginning of 2004. If it also gets the go-ahead from parliament, Filliger added, the system could be introduced as early as 2005.

Switzerland has already introduced a number of initiatives in an effort to clean up its air.

Since January, all new car imports must be given a label indicating its fuel consumption. The move is aimed at encouraging Swiss consumers to avoid cars that guzzle fuel.

More recently, at the beginning of June, the Swiss parliament ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which commits signatory countries to cutting their CO2 emissions to pre-1990 levels.

The report was written in conjunction with the Centre for Energy Policy and Economics and was financed by the Swiss Association for the Gas Industry.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

A new report by the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich says, at the current rate, emission levels will only drop by 1.3 per cent over the next eight years.

The report suggests a greater emphasis in transport and energy policies on using renewable fuels and the introduction of a tax based on CO2 emissions.

It also calls for a greater effort on the part of businesses and the public to reduce emissions.

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Key facts

Under Swiss law, CO2 emissions must drop by 10 per cent, or 4 million tonnes, by 2010.
The Kyoto Protocol, ratified by the Swiss parliament in June, commits signatories to cut CO2 emissions to pre-1990 levels.
The car industry and the government have agreed to cut petrol consumption to 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres by 2008.

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