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The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change obliges the industrialised states (Annex 1 Parties) to submit regular reports on their national efforts in the area of climate protection and on the measures they have taken to achieve the objectives agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. Switzerland fulfils this requirement with the presentation of its Fifth National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its second report under the Kyoto Protocol.
The new report, which will be submitted to the UN Climate Convention by the end of 2009, provides an overview of Swiss climate policy since 2005, describes the development of greenhouse gas emissions up to 2007 and presents expected trends up to 2012. Information about activities in the area of adaptation, international cooperation, climate research and public relations are also presented in the report.
Compared with the levels recorded by the fourth report of 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland have not changed significantly. This can be explained, among other things, by the fact that the measures taken in Switzerland up to the end of 2007 were mainly voluntary. The commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and the CO2 Act (including the CO2 tax on combustible fuels) have only been in force since 2008.
Overview of national greenhouse gas emissions
The development of national greenhouse gas emissions has been documented in the Swiss Greenhouse Gas Inventory since 1990, the reference year of the Kyoto Protocol. In accordance with the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, the Federal Office for the Environment has recorded the development of emissions seamlessly and transparently in this inventory since 1990. In 2007, Switzerland emitted a total of approximately 51 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2 and other greenhouse gases converted into CO2 equivalent). This amounts to 6.73 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per capita. Overall, emissions remained stable in the period between 1990 and 2007 (see Fact Sheet 1).
Current emissions scenarios and Swiss climate policy
Switzerland committed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by eight per cent in the period between 2008 and 2012. As things stand today, it will be possible to reach this target (see Fact Sheet 2), however it will be necessary to take carbon sinks into account and to purchase international emissions certificates.
To fulfil its emission reduction objectives, Switzerland focuses on a wide range of measures that affect different sectors, for example fiscal incentives (CO2 tax on fossil fuels, emissions trading, building programme) and voluntary measures on the part of business and private individuals (for example, target agreements in different sectors). Despite the adoption of this comprehensive approach, the desired effects are not currently being achieved across the board.
Mix of measures to 2020
For the next commitment period up to the year 2020, Switzerland would like to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent. Under certain circumstances, Switzerland is even prepared to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent. The following measures are among those planned in the context of the revision of the CO2 Act:
A dispatch on the revision of the CO2 Act, which has been passed by the Federal Council, proposes that, irrespective of the outcome of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Switzerland should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent as compared with 1990 levels. The revision of the legislation is currently being negotiated by the Federal Parliament.