The government has agreed to start talks on a bilateral accord that would enable emission quota trading between Swiss and European Union companies.
The Swiss cabinet agreed on Tuesday to begin work on the agreement to unify the Swiss and EU systems of emission quota trading. It hopes to finalise a bilateral accord within three years.
The environment ministry has been carrying out exploratory talks on the issue since 2008. The next stage will be consultations with House of Representatives and Senate foreign affairs commissions.
Bern and Brussels currently operate according to two different systems, and Swiss firms cannot transfer European quotas to the Swiss system, or sell Swiss rights within the EU.
The government said the accords would give Switzerland access to an important market.
The government wants to use emission trading in its future climate policies and make revisions to the different sectors and emission sources, to make them compatible with the European system.
The government said taking part in a trading system would give firms more flexibility in meeting their own reduction commitments. In general, the costs of cutting a tonne of CO2 are lower in various European countries than they are in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch and agencies