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Swiss climate performance potential yet to be realised

Switzerland's new energy strategy foresees an almost four-fold increase in renewable energy production by 2035 Keystone

Switzerland has managed 14th place among 61 countries in a worldwide ranking of climate change performance topped by France, Sweden and the UK. 

This content was published on November 16, 2016
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The alpine nation just managed to scrape into the category of “good” countries and climbed up one rank in the Climate Change Performance Index 2017External link released by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe on Wednesday. 

It did particularly well on climate policy. The report stated that Switzerland – along with South Africa, the Netherlands and Portugal - showed “potential of rising into the good performing group”. No country made the top three spots on the ranking because none had achieved the objectives of the Paris climate agreement of 2015. But host country France made 4th place with a score of 66.17 compared to Switzerland’s 61.66. Apart from France, the Swiss managed to do better than neighbours Italy (16th place), Germany (29th place) and Austria (41st place). Oil producer Saudi Arabia came in last. 

WWF Switzerland called the nation’s performance “poor result” and blamed traffic and the slow pace of adopting renewable energies. The NGO said the country should move up the ranking once it begins implementing its 2050 Energy Strategy and if cantons apply their regulations on energy efficient buildings. 

Action plan 

Switzerland is responsible for about 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, the nation’s goal is to reduce its emissions by at least 50% compared to 1990 levels. By 2050 the target is a reduction between 70 and 85%. 

The Swiss government says the reductions should mostly take place within Switzerland. Among the instruments at its disposal is a carbon tax on fossil fuels, an emissions trading scheme and a programme to renovate buildings so they are more energy efficient. 

The targets must still be debated in parliament, most likely in 2017.

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