In response to the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on global warming of 1.5 °C, the Federal Council decided in August 2019 that Switzerland should aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This net-zero target is also the subject of the "Climate and Innovation Act", which was approved by the electorate in the referendum of June 18, 2023, with 59.1 percent voting in favor. The net-zero target is thus enshrined in law.
From 2050 Switzerland aims to emit no more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than can be captured and stored in natural and technological sinks ('net-zero target').
To reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a substantial reduction in emissions from the building sector, transport and industry is necessary. There are emissions that are unavoidable or very difficult to avoid mainly from the agricultural sector and certain industrial processes such as cement production or waste combustion. These residual emissions will need to be offset by natural and technological storage means (i.e. sinks that absorb and store carbon). The long-term climate strategy shows how the target of net-zero emissions can be reached by 2050.
Climate and Innovation Act
The net-zero target was also the subject of the Glacier Initiative, which was submitted in November 2019. The Glacier Initiative wanted to enshrine the net-zero target in the constitution.
Within the scope of Parliamentary Initiative 21.501 from the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committees (ECPEC-N), Parliament has drafted an indirect counter-proposal to the Glacier Initiative.This new law, the "Federal Act on Climate Protection Targets, Innovation and Strengthening Energy Security" ("Climate and Innovation Act"), was put to the vote on June 18th 2023. It was adopted with 59.1 percent of the vote in favour and will enter into force together with the associated ordinance on January 1, 2025.
In addition to the net-zero target for 2050, the law sets interim targets for 2040 and for the periods 2031-2040 and 2041-2050. These contain indicative targets for the buildings, transport and industry sectors. This law also stipulates that all businesses must achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. For the central Federal Administration, this goal is to be achieved by the earlier deadline of 2040. The federal government and the cantons will also be obliged to take measures to protect nature and people against the consequences of global warming.
The first concrete measures are two temporary support programs: Industrial and commercial companies that use innovative climate-friendly technologies will benefit from support of 200 million Swiss francs per year. This support is limited to six years. Homeowners who replace oil or gas heating systems or electric resistance heating systems with wood heating systems or heat pumps, or who invest in the insulation of their homes, will benefit from support of 200 million Swiss francs per year. These subsidies are distributed in addition to the already existing building program. They are limited to 10 years.
The further measures for achieving these targets are each to be defined in the CO2 Act. The Climate and Innovation Act foresees for these different stages.
Last modification 18.06.2023