Switzerland to complete signing of Alpine Convention
Environment ministers from eight alpine nations are meeting in Lucerne to discuss sustainable management of the Alps. Switzerland will use the occasion to sign the remaining protocols of the Alpine Convention.
The Swiss environment minister, Moritz Leuenberger, will sign the remaining protocols covering transport, energy and the settlement of disputes, before the meeting closes on Tuesday.
The aim of the convention is to coordinate the use and protection of the Alps among the nations which have approved it. So far, Switzerland has signed five of the protocols, covering tourism, the protection of nature, alpine economy, alpine forestry and land management.
The signing of the transport protocol will prove no problem for Switzerland, which has stricter laws on major road development in the mountains than those enshrined in the protocol itself.
The protocol obliges signatories to keep traffic below levels where it would threaten the well being of humans, flora and fauna. It also demands that no new transalpine roads be built.
But even with the signing of the remaining protocols, there are no guarantees that Switzerland is ready to apply the convention. Parliament has refused to ratify the convention, saying all protocols must be signed first, and there is widespread resistance to some of its provisions in certain mountain cantons.
There is, however, growing pressure to see the convention applied as soon as possible. The International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA) has asked for a heavy-truck tax to be introduced all over Europe.
The organisation, which brings together, among others, the Swiss Transport and Environment Association and the Alps Initiative, also wants road traffic to be reduced and opposes the building of a second tunnel be built under the Gotthard pass.
The Alpine Convention brings together Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Slovenia.
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