Switzerland Astray: Parliament Decides to Kill the Domestic Reduction Target

6 December 2018

ECO still cannot believe what happened in Switzerland earlier this week! While we all listened carefully to President Alain Berset’s opening speech on Monday, reminding everyone (in particular his MPs it seems) that”we can only succeed […] if all states €“ really all €“ reduce their emissions”,his Parliament back home almost simultaneously decided to abolish the domestic emission reduction target for the period 2020-2030!

Yes, you read correctly: Switzerland may have no target for domestic CO2- emissions reduction past 2020! ECO wonders what’s happening in the small but pristine and wealthy land of milk and honey (ahem.. chocolate) behind the Alps!

Wasn’t Switzerland the first country in the world to announce an ambitious INDC well ahead of Paris? And isn’t the Swiss delegation known for their persistent push on a robust transparency framework, strict criteria (“same for all!”) and a mechanism to continuously increase mitigation ambition?

Perhaps ECO isn’t alone having fallen for a slightly distorted picture of a seemingly progressive, clean and (self- proclaimed “recycling champion”) country. Time to lift the curtain of cheese and fondue:

Indeed, Switzerland announced in early 2015 its INDC of a reduction by 50% of CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990). But what the Swiss government did not mention back then is the intention to achieve almost half of it abroad. In fact, its domestic target was intended to be -30% only. The rest would come from international transfers of mitigation outcomes (ITMOs).

A recent study by Swiss Cleantech (the Swiss association of progressive industries) estimated the amount of needed ITMOs to nearly 60 Million tonnes/certificate. Give it a probable future price of 100 USD (or more) and you get the picture: The Swiss government intended to spend 6 billion USD (or more) over the coming decade on hot air.

That was then. The newest move by the Parliament this Monday, wanting to allow an unlimited part of the NDC to be achieved through ITMOs, could theoretically add up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year to the shopping list. Not only does this seem ethically skewed, but it undermines the goals and intent of Paris.Spending around 10 billion USD (or more) on hot air rather than on domestic mitigation measures, makes no economic sense either.

There is one last chance. The Council of States can reverse this decision in the further debate of Switzerland’s new climate legislation. ECO hopes that the MPs heard what the President was telling the world: “The cost of inaction is far beyond the cost of action”; “first movers will be the winners”…

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