Issue 19 «Offsetting CO2 emissions» newsletter, 15th of december 2023

In this newsletter, the Compensation Office informs you about important decisions, innovations and publications on the subject of offsetting Switzerland's carbon emissions.

1. Publication of new documents

The next revised CO2 Ordinance is due to enter into force on 1 January 2024. The relevant modules of the Compensation Office's enforcement notifications will be published on 8 January 2024. These contain the latest amendments to the Ordinance and take more comprehensive account of projects and programmes implemented abroad. The content has been slightly revised to make comprehension easier. A list of the changes can be found at the end of the enforcement notifications. In addition, we recommend that validator and verifier ensure that the most recent notifications and the up-to-date version of the CO2 Ordinance are referred to when completing validation and verification.

2. Submission of legally binding documents in electronic form

For some time now it has been possible to submit validated project descriptions and verified monitoring reports electronically. We would like to remind you here of this possibility. It is not necessary to submit a hand-signed version by post. However, documents in electronic form must contain a Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) and be submitted via a recognised delivery platform.

Recognised delivery platforms:

Qualified Electronic Signature (QES):

3. Requirements for qualification of projects or programmes and issuing of attestations

The Compensation Office would like to remind you that its task is to check compliance with the requirements of the COOrdinance, to which the qualification of projects and programmes and the issue of attestations are linked. The Compensation Office does not decide on the following points:

- the price of attestations

- agreements between project developers and applicants

- agreements between applicants and fuel importers (e.g. the Foundation for Climate Protection and Carbon Offset KliK)

- agreements between programme participants and programme organisers (e.g. myclimate and the Foundation for Climate Protection and Carbon Offset KliK)

4. Foreseeable amendments to legal provisions

The Compensation Office decides on the suitability of a project or programme on the basis of the provisions of the CO2 Ordinance that are in force at the time the application is submitted or the application for revalidation of a project or programme is submitted. The CO2 Ordinance does not apply retroactively. However, it takes precedence over the communication issued by the Compensation Office. In the event of discrepancies between the COOrdinance and the Compensation Office's Communication, the text of the Ordinance shall apply.

There is a discrepancy of this kind in the 2022 version of the Compensation Office's Communication. The values for the climate impact of the greenhouse gases methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have been adjusted in the CO2 Ordinance of 1 January 2024, from 25 to 28 and 298 to 265 CO2 equivalents respectively. It may be mentioned in project descriptions that the new values will be used from the entry into force of the new ordinance on 1 January 2024; however, before this date the new values may not be used for monitoring.

In general, if it is known that amendments are to be made to the legal provisions, and these are not yet in force at the time the application is submitted, the project description can state that the project will be adapted to the new legal provisions as soon as they have entered into force in the applicable law. In this case, it must be stated in the parameters and data sources that the parameter to be applied is the one listed in the ordinance in force at the time the monitoring is submitted. The parameter remains dynamic for the entire crediting period.

5. Duration of the monitoring period

Since 1 November 2018, it has been possible to submit the monitoring report, the underlying measurement data and the associated verification report for all projects and programmes, including those submitted before this date, covering a period of up to three years. The documents must be submitted to the FOEN no later than one year after the end of this monitoring period. Emission reductions or increases in carbon sink effects must be reported and documented separately for each calendar year (Art. 9 para. 5 CO2 Ordinance).
This does not apply to projects and programmes that have to prove their emission reductions annually, for example because they have an interface with other instruments. This applies to a number of types of project, including type 5.2 projects (use of liquid fuels from renewable raw materials) and those with an interface to companies exempt from the CO2 levy (see Newsletter No 18).

6. Signature of all VV listed persons required

All persons from validators and verifiers who assume responsibility for a role must sign the appraisal report. Not only technical specialists, persons with overall responsibility and quality managers but also listed persons without authorisation (e.g. administrative officers) and additional technical specialists under conditional approval are required to sign the validation or verification report.

7. Offsetting projects abroad and bilateral agreements

By ratifying the Paris Agreement, Switzerland has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% relative to 1990 levels by 2030. Part of this is to be achieved by means of climate protection projects abroad. Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement allows for international cooperation. The activities conducted under Article 6 can be viewed on the following pages.

1. Bilateral treaties regulate the framework conditions for cooperation under Article 6.2. Further information and in particular the list of countries with which Switzerland has concluded bilateral agreements can be found here:

2. The documents relating to registered offsetting projects implemented abroad are available on this page:

8. fNRB parameter value to be adapted to international discussions

When calculating the emission reductions of projects that reduce biomass consumption, the 'fraction of non-renewable biomass' (fNRB) parameter determines the proportion of firewood and charcoal that is non-renewable (the harvest exceeds the natural renewal of woody biomass). The value of the fNRB parameter is set conservatively (Art. 5 para. 1 let. c No 4 CO2 Ordinance). The Compensation Office takes account of international discussions on this matter; the value can be reassessed as knowledge develops. The Compensation Office must be contacted to define the value for each given project.

9. Interface between regional balances of greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting projects

On 14 June 2023, the Compensation Office updated its factsheet on its communication on regional balances and offsetting projects, which summarises how reductions from carbon offsetting projects should be taken into account in regional balances, e.g. by cantons, cities and communes. Several cantons produce a regional balance of their greenhouse gas emissions. Emission reductions from offsetting projects can contribute to the voluntary targets that these cantons have set themselves. However, the cantons must communicate transparently that their balance sheet includes emission reductions associated with the national offsetting requirement for fuel importers. Likewise, any co-financing of offsetting projects by the canton must be clearly communicated and the effect must be apportioned. The updated factsheet explains that the same approach is recommended for measures implemented in public organisations as for private companies with net-zero roadmaps (see next newsletter item). You will find the factsheet at the end of the following webpage under Further information > Documents:

10. Interface between net-zero roadmaps and offsetting projects

On 18 January 2023, the Compensation Office published a factsheet on its communication on net-zero roadmaps and compensation projects (available in German, French and Italian). This can be used as a guideline by companies that already want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. The factsheet can be found at the end of the following webpage under Further information > Documents:

11. Submitting project and programme outlines

Applicants can submit a project or programme outline for preliminary review by the Compensation Office. With immediate effect, such outlines should be submitted electronically via the CORE information and documentation system.

Further information, including instructions for creating CORE access and a Word template for the outline, can be found under 'Submission of project or programme outlines':

Last modification 20.03.2024

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