The fourth round of negotiations between Switzerland and the European Union on the linking of their respective CO2 emissions trading systems was held in Zurich on 8 July 2013. Further progress was made at the negotiations. The aim of completing the technical negotiations by the end of the year was corroborated.
According to the latest environment report published on 9 July 2013, the environment in Switzerland is not immune to the major global environmental trends of increasing pollution, the overexploitation of natural resources and climate warming. According to Bruno Oberle, Director of the FOEN, the only way to reduce the pressure on natural resources is to decouple economic growth from environmental pollution.
The Swiss Federal Council aims to conserve natural resources, promote more ecologically sound consumption patterns and strengthen the circular economy. To this end, it is proposing the revision of Switzerland’s Environmental Protection Act. This legislative amendment is an indirect counter-proposal to the Green Economy Popular Initiative. The Federal Council submitted the proposed legislative amendment for consultation on 26 June 2013.
At the United Nations Conference in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in June 2012, the biggest ever held, the participating states decided to put the green economy on the international agenda and to formulate goals for sustainable development. Just one year later, measures are already being implemented in Switzerland for the substantiation of these goals.
Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard has signed two agreements in Beijing which will lead to closer cooperation between Switzerland and China in the fields of transport and forestry. The Head of the Federal Department for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC also met State Councillor Yang Jiechi and other ministers in the Chinese government.
Following the decisions taken by the states participating in the triple conference on chemicals and hazardous waste in Geneva, which is due to conclude shortly, five additional chemicals will be subject to international regulation. On 10 May 2013, the ministerial representatives, including Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, adopted a declaration highlighting the important contribution made by the management of hazardous substances to sustainable development and the protection of health and the environment.
The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste at international level will convene in Geneva from 28 April to 10 May 2013. In continuation of their synergies process, they will convene jointly for two days with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will participate in the ministerial segment of the conference to be held on 9 and 10 May. The Federal Council approved the mandate of the Swiss delegation to the conference on 10 April 2013.
The Swiss fishing advisory office, FIBER, run jointly by Eawag, the Federal Office for the Environment and the Swiss Fishing Association has been secured for a further three years. The office is designed to promote sustainable fishing, as well as an understanding of healthy water bodies, and the preservation of spawning grounds. The new di-rector of FIBER is fish biologist Bänz Lundsgaard-Hansen.
The Federal Council aims to protect natural resources and at the same time strengthen the Swiss economy. For this reason, at its meeting on 27 February 2013, it mandated the DETEC to prepare the necessary revision of the Environmental Protection Act. These changes in the law constitute a direct counterproposal to the popular initiative “For a sustainable and resource-efficient economy (green economy)” which is rejected by the Federal Council.
On 13 February 2013 the Federal Council set the revised Ordinance on Protection against Major Accidents with effect from 1 April 2013 in force. As a new feature, high-pressure natural gas and oil pipelines are subject to the Ordinance on Protection against Major Accidents. In it, provision is made for the risks of these installations to be quantified and reduced using purposeful measures. Furthermore, to augment public safety in the densely settled country of Switzerland, regional planning and the prevention of major accidents will be better coordinated.