Switzerland needs to set specific climate goals

National had to do this twice to conclude the debate on an indirect counter-draft of the Glacier Initiative. CASTON / PETER SCHNEIDER sda-ats

This content was published on June 15, 2022 – 10:19


Switzerland must have specific climate targets to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. National adopted on Wednesday by 134 votes to 56 indirect counter-draft initiative on glaciers, unfortunately UDC.

The initiative and the counter-project have one goal. Both want to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. However, the ways to achieve this are different. The initiators demand a ban on fuel and fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, gasoline or diesel.

Intermediate goals

This is too extreme for the National. In March, he flatly rejected the initiative in favor of a direct counter-proposal from the Federal Council, thus giving his competent committee enough time to prepare its own counter-proposal. The indirect advantage is that it sets specific goals directly in the law and thus speeds up the legislative process.

By 2050, the construction and transport sectors should no longer emit CO2, and the industrial sector should reduce emissions by 90%, according to the text. The remaining emissions will have to be offset. An intermediate goal has also been set: by 2040, Switzerland will have to reduce emissions by 75% compared to 1990. Several incentive tools are provided.

Deputies worked on this counter-project on Tuesday. Due to lack of time, they had to interrupt the debate before the last vote on a series of proposals by the left and the UDC. The Pink and Green Camp is in favor of more ambitious goals, while the Conservative Party wants to reduce them as much as possible.

In particular, the SVP wanted to exclude any financial goal from the law. Conversely, the left called for additional or more restrictive measures to protect the climate in the financial, construction and transport sectors. According to her, air emissions should also be taken into account for intermediate purposes. No proposal was successful.

Assistance programs have been criticized

The Conservative Party also opposes an industrial aid program and a heating replacement program. The first, endowed with 200 million francs a year for six years, aims to encourage companies to use new technologies and processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another stretches for decades at a rate of 200 million a year. He intends to encourage everyone to abandon old pollutants. Companies and citizens are already working in this direction, the conservative said. For example, they change their fossils to heat pumps. But there is a shortage of supplies and a shortage of manpower.

The cantons also already have very effective support tools. We need to give them control, he says. The proposed programs are disproportionate.

Attractive financial incentive

“Electric heaters need to be replaced as soon as possible. The support program makes sense. It needs to be put in place as soon as possible,” Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told them on Wednesday.

“It is not easy to replace the heater,” added Roger Nordmann (PS / VD). “Therefore, one of the two fossil heaters is replaced by fossil heaters.” And that will not change in twenty or twenty-five years. Supporting owners in cleaning up their installations will speed up the share of renewable installations.

“The population does not want additional taxes,” Suzanne Vincent-Stauffacher (PLR / SG) also reminded the commission. The rejection of the CO2 law has demonstrated this. Assistance programs create an attractive financial incentive.

The program for the industry easily entered the market. It’s a little harder to tempt help with heater replacement. The instrument was adopted by 119 votes to 74. Part of the bourgeois camp united in the UDC.

The initiative has been removed from the game

In the end, the National followed his instructions all the way. It may be different in the Council of States, which must now take the case.

However, the initiators are quite satisfied with the indirect counter-project in its current version. They may even withdraw their initiative if it is accepted as it is. The Federal Council will also support this. Senators may well take these elements into account in the debate.