The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Councils revise the CO2 Act for the coming years

Parliament has amended the revised CO2 Act. In many cases, the less ambitious Council of States ultimately prevailed. Representatives of the Left-Green Party in the National Council criticized the law as being too weak to achieve the climate target.

The amendments to the CO2 Act are intended to help achieve the 2050 net-zero target. The Federal Council and Parliament want to encourage the population and the economy to protect the climate and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The law is set to come into force on January 1, 2025. It covers the years 2025 to 2030.

Reduction primarily in Germany

In contrast to the current law, the revised CO2 Act does not stipulate what proportion of the reduction in greenhouse gases must be achieved with domestic measures. Parliament wants the reduction to take place "primarily" in Switzerland. The Federal Council is to set a precise quota.

The Council of States prevailed with this wording. The National Council had wanted to stipulate a domestic share of 75%, as in the current law, and - for the sake of compromise and in vain - backed down to 70%. Environment Minister Albert Rösti assured the Federal Council that he would propose a share of 66%. This is realistic with the measures in the law.

Until recently, there was controversy as to whether the federal government could support the installation of basic infrastructure for e-car charging stations in multi-party houses and companies with several workplaces. The Federal Council would have wanted to do this for six years with up to CHF 30 million a year from the mineral oil tax.

Futile rescue attempts

However, the Council of States was against it from the outset and prevailed in the unification conference. The National Council, on the other hand, wanted to save what could be saved. It reduced the amount of funding to up to CHF 20 million per year and decided not to support charging stations in public parking lots, but ultimately lost out.

The fact that the Council of States had prevailed in the agreement conference on charging stations and on a number of other points was a source of disagreement. Voices from the left-wing and green parties in the National Council accused the small chamber of lacking ambition when it came to climate protection and a lack of willingness to compromise.

Martin Bäumle (GLP/ZH) said that it was questionable in terms of state policy if the Council of States did not take a step towards the National Council. This would jeopardize trust in cooperation between the Councils. The Council of States committee had done everything it could to adopt the weakest possible measures, said Roger Nordmann (SP/VD).

No new levies

Bastien Girod (Greens/ZH) spoke of an "inadequate law in view of the challenge of global warming". Michael Graber (VS), the SVP spokesperson, was satisfied. The fact that the conservative side had been able to fend off many proposals meant that we now have a "left-wing law", but not a "completely left-wing law".

The National Council also gave way on the reduction path for the reduction of CO2 emissions from passenger cars. It would have wanted to set interim targets for the years 2025 to 2029. The Council of States did not want this. The target itself - a maximum of 49.5 grams of CO2 per kilometer for passenger cars from 2030 - was not controversial.

The revised law does not introduce any new levies or taxes; the CO2 levy remains at CHF 120 per tonne of CO2. Up to a third of the revenue is to go towards the building program, the promotion of renewable energies and greenhouse gas reduction technologies. The Federal Council had wanted to use up to half of the revenue for this, but was held back by parliament.

Money for climate protection

The bill allows the Federal Council to invest up to around four billion Swiss francs in climate protection, the majority of which will be spent on measures for buildings. Funding will also be provided for international passenger rail transport, renewable aviation fuels, electric drive technologies and renewable energies.

The revised CO2 Act is a new attempt following the failure of the revised CO2 Act 2021 at the ballot box. The SVP had successfully fought this with a referendum.


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