The Swiss minister for energy and the environment has warned the Swiss that petrol prices in the country will have to be hiked if they reject a proposed energy tax in a vote later this month.
In an interview published in Saturday's edition of the "Tribune de Genève" daily, Moritz Leuenberger said that if the energy taxes were to be rejected, a tax on CO-2 levels would in all likelihood have to be implemented. And that tax, said Leuenberger, would mean a 50 centimes rise at Swiss petrol pumps.
On September 24, a nation-wide ballot will be held regarding three plans, each of which calls for an additional levy on energy. The money raised would be used for the promotion of alternative forms of energy or to support the country's social security system.
Businesses have come out against the moves, saying they will place an unbearable burden on the economy.
The Swiss Federation of Commerce and Industry supported calls for more sustainable sources of energy and a cleaner environment. However, it said it favoured government plans for a CO-2 law to restrict emissions if the industry fails to clean up its act.
Leuenberger, however, said introducing a CO-2 law would hit people's wallets harder causing an increase in the cost of petrol of half a franc per litre.
Opposition to the proposed tax on fossil fuels and nuclear energy is growing as the ballot date approaches.
A study released in July refuted claims the measure would help protect the environment, saying that Switzerland accounts for only 0.2 per cent of the world's total energy consumption, and has the lowest per capita carbon dioxide emissions.
swissinfo with agencies
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