Long-term climate strategy to 2050

The Paris Agreement calls on countries to develop a long-term climate strategy. Switzerland’s strategy shows how it can attain the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Federal Council adopted the long-term climate strategy for Switzerland on 27 January 2021 and has approved the submission of the strategy to the UN Climate Change Secretariat. Switzerland has thus fulfilled one of the terms of the Paris Agreement (Art. 4.19), which requires countries to develop long-term climate strategies with a time horizon up to 2050.

Goals and content of the long-term climate strategy

The starting point for the long-term climate strategy is the net zero emissions target for 2050, which the Federal Council decided in August 2019. The strategy is a key step in achieving the net zero target. It formulates ten basic strategic principles that will shape Swiss climate policy in the coming years and presents climate goals and emission pathways for the buildings, industry, transport, agricultural and food sectors, financial markets, synthetic gases, aviation and the waste industry.

The emission pathways are based largely on the Energy Perspectives 2050+ drawn up by the Federal Office of Energy and published in late November 2020. Taking a range of scenarios, the Energy Perspectives 2050+ show emission pathways towards net zero emissions, the necessary technological developments for attaining this target and the role played by technologies that permanently remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs).

The long-term climate strategy shows that Switzerland can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to around 90 per cent of the 1990 level. The remaining emissions must be balanced with NETs. The Federal Council addressed the possible role of NETs in Switzerland’s long-term climate policy for the first time in detail in autumn 2020 in its reply to the postulate Thorens Goumaz (18.4211) and outlined possible courses for action.

Other countries’ strategies

Switzerland’s long-term climate strategy is in step with the strategies of a growing number of other countries. The EU, for example, is aiming for net zero emissions by 2050. This target is at the centre of the European Green Deal unveiled by the European Commission on 11 December 2019.

A number of other countries, including Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, the UK, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Austria and the United States, have submitted long-term strategies to the UN Climate Change Secretariat. Most affirm their ambition of largely or totally abandoning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, or of attaining net zero emissions by the middle of the century at the latest. Some countries have set down these objectives in law. For example, Norway aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, Sweden by 2045 and France, the UK and New Zealand by 2050 at the latest.

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Last modification 26.01.2021

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