While the EU is putting in place its carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme – worth a potential €7bn by 2007 – a similar trading scheme is not expected for Switzerland before 2008. However, the Swiss government voiced its support for the EU trading scheme which will cover the 25 member states of the enlarged Union and officials have established informal contacts with EU counterparts. “We are interested in tying the Swiss system to the EU system,” said Renato Marioni from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
On a national basis, plans for a similar emissions trading platform in Switzerland have already been drafted, according to Yvan Keckeis, national climate secretary at the Swiss Environment Ministry. “We are also establishing our own national emissions trade systems. Currently negotiations with approximately 600 firms are in process to decide the goals for the reduction of CO2 for the years 2008 to 2012.”
Nevertheless, Jürg Grütter from the Energy Agency for Industry has expressed doubts whether Swiss companies will be part of the emissions trade before 2008. “Companies in the EU must already adhere to certain goals, but Swiss firms only in 2008.”
The Swiss government is also examining a number of other avenues to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions. It has negotiated pollution credits with Bulgaria when in June it agreed to invest in outdated Bulgarian power stations, modernising them and collecting their pollution credits under the Kyoto Protocol. Similar deals are on the negotiating table with Romania. The government is also looking at the introduction of a SFr50/t tax on CO2 emissions from 2005. However, the cabinet will be making a decision shortly whether it could introduce the controversial tax a year earlier, subject to parliamentary approval.
Meanwhile, a new report, entitled “Potential for the reduction of CO2 emissions in Switzerland from now until 2010”, by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology says the current rate of progress is cause of concern. During the last 10 years CO2 levels have more or less stagnated at the same level as 1990,” said the report’s author Eberhard Jochem. He warns that carbon dioxide emission levels will fall by only 1.3 per cent over the next eight years – far from the 2010 target of 10 per cent – unless energy and transport policies are changed. It goes on to suggest that energy sources such as natural gas and wood should be used rather than petrol, heating oil and diesel. But the report urges the Swiss government to pass stricter measures to bring CO2 levels down.