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, the transport sector is the most significant source of CO2 emissions, followed by buildings and industry. Agriculture and waste are the main sources of laughing gas and methane emissions.
Greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 12% between 1990 and 2017 (the large annual fluctuations can be attributed to weather conditions). . The target set in the CO2 Act, i.e. a -20% decrease from 1990 levels by 2020, 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 2017, and a slight decline in these emissions has only been recorded for a few years. In 2017, they still exceeded the 1990 level by 1%. In 2017, emissions in the buildings sector fell by 26% compared to 1990 levels and emissions from the industrial sector by 18.
Indicative sectoral targets were defined for 2020. The transport sector will in all likelihood fail to reach the set sectoral target of -10%. Even if normal weather conditions occur, the building sector will also probably not be able to achieve its set target of -40%. Only the industrial sector should be able to reach its set target of -15%. For the remaining emissions (in particular agricultural and synthetic gases), 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 reduction 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 fossil motor fuels.
Under the Climate Convention (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol to that convention, the greenhouse gas (GHG) 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, or the Commission on Sustainable Development CSD).
The data are taken from Switzerland's Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is maintained by the FOEN 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 global warming potential. Methodological changes or the availability of new data require a recalculation of the entire time series since 1990.
The assessment is based on the linear trend between 2008 and 2017, since 2018 marked the introduction of the CO2 levy. This date also seems to coincide with the beginning of the turning point in emissions. To mitigate annual fluctuations influenced by weather conditions, the trend is calculated on the basis of the emission values after climate correction. If this trend continues in the future, emissions should amount to 45.9 million tonnes of CO2-eq. in 2020. Therefore, the target for 2020 (42.9 million tonnes of CO2-eq.) will probably not be achieved.