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 emitted in response to energy needs. At present, transport is the most significant source of CO2 emissions, followed by buildings and industry. Agriculture is the main source of nitrous oxide and methane emissions.
Percentage reduction targets have been set for 2020. These are not based on the relevant emission levels of 1990, but on those determined in the Second Initial Report (base year). Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 14% between 1990 (base year) and 2018. The large annual fluctuations can be attributed to weather conditions. The sequestration performance of forest land may be counted towards the target set for 2020 in the CO2 Act, i.e. a reduction of 20% compared with 1990 (base year). It is assumed, however, that it will not contribute significantly. The reduction target may not be reached. Therefore, the trend is assessed as unsatisfactory.
Developments differed from sector to sector: at 32%, transport accounts for the largest proportion of total emissions in 2018, and a slight decline in these emissions has only been recorded for a few years. In 2018, they still exceeded the 1990 (base year) level by one percentage point. Up to 2018, emissions in the building sector fell by 34% compared with 1990 (base year), and those from the industrial sector by 14%.
The indicative target of ‑10% for the transport sector in 2020 is unlikely to be met. Under normal weather conditions the building sector will also probably not be able to achieve its set indicative target of -40%. Only the industrial sector might be able to reach its target of -15%. For the remaining emissions (agriculture, synthetic gases and waste management), the set target of -10% will also be difficult to achieve.
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.
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. This performance will be credited in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory in 2022, at the end of the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period. Current estimates indicate that the sequestration performance credited will be in the range of a few hundred thousand tonnes.
The assessment is based on the linear trend of emission values for the period from 2008 – when the CO2 levy was introduced – to 2018. The introduction of the levy also seems to coincide with the beginning of the turning point in emissions. If this trend continues in the future, emissions should amount to 45 million tonnes of CO2-eq. in 2020. Therefore, the interim target for 2020 (43 million tonnes of CO2-eq.) will probably not be achieved.