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.
Following a week of intensive negotiations, the new mercury convention was adopted on 19 January 2013 by the approximately 140 participating states. The convention will enable the reduction in mercury emissions, which are highly toxic to health and the environment, at global level. Switzerland is very pleased with the successful outcome of the process, to which it made a major contribution.
Together with delegates from over 140 countries, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard participated in the final round of the UNEP negotiations on the establishment of a mercury convention this afternoon. She appealed for the passing of a convention that would guarantee a reduction in global mercury emissions.
The fifth and final session of negotiations on the establishment of an international mercury convention will take place from 13 to 18 January 2013 in Geneva. The session is expected to culminate in the adoption of an agreement that aims to reduce mercury emissions and releases to the air, water and land. During the negotiations, Switzerland, which has been very committed to the establishment of the new convention, will support the effective and comprehensive regulation of mercury, that is its production, use and waste management. The Federal Council approved the mandate of the Swiss negotiating delegation on 9 January 2013.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha (Qatar) ended on 8 December 2012 with an agreement. The Kyoto Protocol will be continued until 2020 and the conclusion of a comprehensive climate agreement was confirmed for the post-2020 period. From the perspective of the Swiss delegation the conference achieved the minimum of what it set out to do.