Climate: International Affairs

Greenhouse gas emissions do not respect national borders. Because climate change has had serious repercussions for Switzerland with its mountain ecosystem, a globally coordinated course of action for this Alpine country is essential. Switzerland is strongly committed to climate protection at an international level.

1. UNFCCC - the political process

Since the 1980s, the global community has been focusing on the issues of climate change and seeking global solutions.

The Climate Change Convention, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement

The Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), which was sealed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, is a milestone for coordinated action at international level: industrialised countries undertook to reduce emissions and to support developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change, e.g. by funding projects through the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The signatory states to the Climate Change Convention have met annually for the Conference of the Parties (COP) since 1995.

The Kyoto Protocol supplements the Climate Change Convention and requires industrialised countries to make an average reduction for the period 2008-12 of minus 5% (Switzerland and the EU: minus 8%) in comparison with 1990. These commitments are legally binding, but covered only around 25% of global emissions.

At the climate conference in Doha at the end of 2012, the countries agreed on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol (Doha Amendment). The industrialised countries committed to reducing emissions by 18% in the period by 2020 compared with 1990 levels (Switzerland and the EU: 20%). The second commitment period now covers only 14% of global emissions as certain countries withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol and emissions have increased in developing countries, which are not obliged to achieve any reduction in emissions.

The Paris Agreement was passed in December 2015. It is the first global climate agreement that obliges all states to implement concrete measures to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change on the basis of their responsibilities and capacities.

2. IPCC - the scientific basis

 The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to obtain the necessary scientific, technical and socio-economic information on anthropogenic climate change. Without making policy recommendations itself, the IPCC periodically assesses the causes and impacts of climate change, thus providing politicians and the public with the necessary information and basis for policy decision-making. The IPCC also develops methodologies for use by all countries in evaluating their greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, the IPCC reports are viewed as essential reading for all those involved in the area of climate change, i.e. experts, administrations and industry.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which was published in 2007, summarises the current state of knowledge on climate change and its global impacts. Thousands of climate scientists from all over the world were involved in the compilation of the report, and the results are endorsed by governments throughout the world (including the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.). The report consists of three parts:

  1. The Physical Science Basis
  2. Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
  3. Mitigation of Climate Change

Further information

Last modification 20.08.2019

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