The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Survey: Swiss support of climate law is slipping

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 24 May 2023
Will Swiss voters support the Federal Council’s proposal to offset carbon emissions by 2050? Support for the Climate and Innovation Act is declining, a survey says.
Survey: Swiss support of climate law is slipping
Greenpeace activists earlier this month scaled a crane in Bern and unfurled a banner protesting carbon emissions (Keystone SDA).

Although more than half of Swiss voters say they will approve of the divisive Climate and Innovation Act, support for the law is slipping with each passing week, according to a new survey in local newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

More on the Climate and Innovation Act

In 2019, the “Glacier Initiative” was presented in Swiss Parliament calling for a complete ban on fossil fuels and an end to greenhouse gasses by 2050.

The Federal Council denounced the plan as going “too far” and presented a more moderate counter-proposal in 2022 called “The Federal Act on Climate Protection Goals, Innovation and Strengthening Energy Security” (or the Climate and Innovation Act) to help Switzerland reach climate neutrality by 2050. Meaning Switzerland cannot emit more greenhouse gasses than it produces.

The most popular Swiss political party, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), has not been in favor of the Federal Council’s counter-proposal and collected enough voter signatures to trigger a voter referendum – the issue will be put to a vote on June 18th.

Read more: Basel climate protest ends in violence

The SVP says the measure is an “electricity guzzler” that will harm the population and economy as it will have to rely solely on electricity in the midst of an energy crisis.

According to the survey, about 55% of voters support the climate initiative, but support has dropped by three percentage points since the end of April. Could support dip below the majority needed to pass the act before voters go to the polls next month? Survey researchers say it is possible.

Survey: Swiss support of climate law is slipping
Two mountain hikers rest on near the receding Gorner Glacier in the canton of Valais (Keystone SDA).
Where the division lies

Supporters of the climate act tend to belong to the Green, Green Liberal and Social Democratic Party (SP) parties. Among the members of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), about 46% support the act and 49% are against passing it. About 86% of the SVP members say they do not support passing the act.

Climate change: Swiss women v. Switzerland

 Among voters, division tends to lie between those living in cities and those in the countryside. About 62% of urban voters support passing the act, while those in the country are divided down the middle.

Survey: Swiss support of climate law is slipping
A stranded boat on the dried out shore of Lake Gruyère in 2020 (Keystone SDA).
Switzerland and the climate

At least 130 countries have announced plans to become climate neutral by 2050, with China and Russia saying they will follow suit by 2060. This list of United Nations member countries account for about 90% of global emissions, according to a report from Net Zero Tracker.

Switzerland ranks 22nd (down from 15th in 2022) in Europe its performance on offsetting emissions, using renewable energy and putting climate-friendly policies in place, according to the Climate Change Performance Index 2023 (CCPI). Switzerland needs to “improve its policies” and “accelerate their implementation,” says CCPI.

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