Greenhouse gas emissions
In Switzerland, the overall impact of human activities on the climate is, to a very large extent, determined by the quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted in response to energy needs. At present, transport is the most significant source of CO2 emissions in Switzerland, followed by industry and buildings. Agriculture is the main source of nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions.
In 2020, Switzerland's greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 43.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. This represents a 19% reduction relative to the 1990 base year. Under the current CO2 Act, Switzerland has to reduce its domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 relative to 1990. Based on the 2020 greenhouse gas inventory, Switzerland thus narrowly missed its national climate target, despite the measures taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the warm winter and the accountable sink (see Fact sheet) resulting from the CO2 storage by Swiss forests and harvested wood products (0.3 million tonnes of CO2).
Developments differed from sector to sector: at 32%, transport accounted for the largest proportion of total emissions in 2020. Transport volumes fell massively in the wake of the pandemic. Emissions were down by almost 9% compared to the previous year and were 8% below the 1990 base year. Nonetheless, the transport sector still failed to meet the target of minus 10%. Emissions in the building sector in 2020 were 39% lower than in the 1990 base year, which means that the building sector failed to meet the 40% target with respect to 1990 as specified in the current CO2 Act. In 2020, industry emitted 17% less CO2 equivalents relative to the 1990 base year. Industry was thus the only sector to achieve its target of a 15% reduction relative to 1990. Overall, other emissions fell by 2% relative to 1990. The targeted reduction of 10% was thus clearly missed.
The CO2 Act introduced several measures intended to reduce emissions in the various sectors, including an increase in the CO2 levy on thermal fuels combined with an increase in contributions to the federal Buildings Programme, emission regulations for new vehicles, the Emission Trading Scheme for energy-intensive industries and an obligation for importers to compensate for some of the CO2 emissions attributable to motor fuels.
Information on the reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement and the CO2 Act for the individual periods is available on the following page: Switzerland’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Information on the review of target achievement, in particular the rules on the accounting of the carbon sink (greenhouse gas balance of vegetation and soils) as well as emission reductions through projects abroad is available at: Review of target achievement.
- Related indicators
- Annual mean temperature
- Cattle population
- CO2 Emissions from thermal and motor fuels
- Greenhouse gas balance of land use
- Greenhouse gas footprint
- Treibhausgasemissionen nach Gasen
- Treibhausgasemissionen nach Sektoren
- Treibhausgasemissionen pro Kopf
- Treibhausgas-Konzentration in der Atmosphäre
Under the Climate Convention (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions of all industrialised countries are calculated in accordance with detailed guidelines. Expert panels review compliance with the guidelines. The UNFCCC greenhouse gas inventories are used by a number of international organisations (e.g., by the European Environment Agency EEA, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD, and the Commission on Sustainable Development CSD).
The data are taken from Switzerland's Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is produced by the FOEN annually in accordance with the guidelines of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The methodology is documented in detail in the National Inventory Report and is in line with the technical guidelines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This indicator shows the total of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, expressed in million tonnes of CO2-equivalent, i.e. the various non-CO2 greenhouse gases are converted into CO2-equivalents in accordance with their specific environmental impact. Methodological changes or the availability of new data require a recalculation of the entire time series since 1990.
The baseline value for 1990 of 53.7 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents that is laid down in the Second Initial Report is used to calculate the target levels for 2020. Under the Kyoto Protocol guidelines, the forest management sequestration performance compared with a reference level (Forest Management Reference Level) is counted towards the target in the second commitment period.
|Targeted trend||Initial value||Final value||Deviation from theoretical path in%||Observed trend||Assessment|
|42.96 Mio. t CO2-eq in 2020||2008||2020||96.24%||Towards theoretical path||unsatisfactory|
* The first year for the assessment is 2008 – the year the CO2 levy was introduced. The introduction of the levy also seems to coincide with the beginning of the turning point in emissions.