Federal Council approves new CO2 Ordinance

Bern, 30.11.2012 - On 30 November 2012 the Federal Council approved the new CO2 Ordinance, which enters into force along with the revised CO2 Act on 1 January 2013. These pieces of legislation establish the legal framework for Switzerland’s climate policy from 2013 to 2020.

The CO2 Ordinance sets out in detail the provisions of the CO2 Act passed by Parliament in the 2011 winter session. By 2020, domestic greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels. The CO2 Ordinance formulates instruments in such a way that the legally defined reduction target can be achieved.

Between May and August 2012 the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC carried out a consultation procedure on the CO2 Ordinance. It received almost 180 statements from the cantons, cantonal conferences, professional organisations, other organisations, affected businesses and private individuals. The key findings of the consultation are presented in a report published on the Federal Chancellery website.

Instruments to achieve climate targets

On 30 November 2012 the Federal Council approved the following measures and instruments formulated on the basis of the consultation results:

  • The reduction target of 20 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2020 is shared between the buildings, transport and industrial sectors. The contribution that each sector makes to achieving this target is determined by the proportion of total Swiss emissions that the sector is responsible for. The maximum reduction potential in each sector when the statutory measures are applied is also taken into account. It is expected that, compared with 1990 levels, a 40 per cent reduction in the buildings sector, a 10 per cent reduction in the transport sector and a reduction of 15 per cent in the industrial sector can be achieved by 2020. In addition to a continuous reduction in CO2 emissions, the CO2 Ordinance sets interim targets for 2015 in the three sectors. If developments suggest that the targets will not be reached, DETEC will propose additional measures to the Federal Council;
  • If the CO2 emissions target for fossil fuels is not met in 2012, the CO2 levy on fossil fuels will be increased from the current 36 francs to 60 francs per tonne of CO2 from 1 January 2014. Further increases are possible from 2016 and 2018. The CO2 Act sets the maximum levy at 120 francs per tonne of CO2;
  • The building programme financed by part of the revenue from the CO2 levy on fossil fuels is continued. If the CO2 levy on fossil fuels is increased, a maximum of 300 million francs a year can be invested in promoting measures to reduce emissions in buildings;
  • Certain sectors of the economy which are particularly affected by the CO2 levy and which operate in competitive international markets should still be able to opt out of the CO2 levy. Should they wish to do this, the companies concerned must instead commit to reducing their emissions;
  • The Emissions Trading System for companies will continue to develop along EU lines with a view to combining it with the European system;
  • Fossil fuel importers are required by 2020 to compensate at least 10 per cent of transport-generated CO2 emissions with measures in Switzerland. The Ordinance sets out the requirements for these measures. For example, it must be guaranteed that a project will lead to additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and would not have been carried out anyway;
  • The CO2 emission standards for new cars introduced in 2012 are continued;
  • A technology fund is established and financed with 25 million francs a year from revenue from the CO2 tax. This money is used to provide guarantees for innovative companies, making it easier for them to borrow money to invest in developing new low-emission technologies;
  • Measures to promote information, training and advisory services.

Switzerland's climate policy and the international climate regime

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was ratified by nearly all countries, commits the international community to stabilising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a non-hazardous level. The Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force in 2005, requires the industrialised nations, in an initial step, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 by an average of 5.2 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

In ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Switzerland committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 by an average of at least eight per cent compared with 1990 levels. Switzerland is meeting this international obligation by applying the CO2 Act, in force since 1999. The Act focuses on the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The current version of the CO2 Act aims to reduce carbon emissions between 2008 and 2012 by an average of 10 per cent (compared with 1990).

No assessment of first Kyoto period until 2014

Switzerland will just meet its obligations for 2008 to 2012 by buying additional emission reduction certificates abroad and factoring in the carbon sink capacity of Swiss forests. The final calculation to determine whether the Kyoto targets have been met will not be available until 2014, when emissions data to the end of 2012 are known.

A follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol is currently being discussed at international level. The next round of negotiations will take place in December 2012 in Doha (Qatar). At national level, the Federal Council and Parliament plan to continue to pursue established climate policy and avoid a regulatory gap. At the end of 2011 Parliament therefore passed the revised CO2 Act, which forms the basis of Swiss climate policy until 2020.

Address for enquiries

Andrea Burkhardt, Head of Climate Section, Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Tel. 031 322 64 94


The Federal Council

Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications

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