First formal round of negotiations held with EU for linking of emissions trading systems

Bern, 09.03.2011 - Switzerland and the EU entered into negotiations on 8 March 2011 with a view to linking their systems for the trading of CO2 emissions allowances. An agreement enshrining the mutual recognition of emissions allowances would give Swiss companies access to the considerably larger and more liquid European emissions market and, therefore, greater flexibility in the fulfilment of their emissions targets.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised states are only allowed to emit a limited volume of climate-harming greenhouse gases. To this end, the states are allocated emissions allowances by the UN. For example, Switzerland is allowed to emit 48 million tonnes of CO2 per year between 2008 and 2012. This represents a reduction of eight per cent on the volume emitted during the Kyoto Protocol base year of 1990. Emissions allowances are also tradable under the Kyoto Protocol. In the context of national emissions trading systems, some of these emissions rights are allocated to companies which have an emissions reduction target. The objective here is to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced wherever this can be done most cost-effectively.

Switzerland and the EU both operate systems for the trading of emissions allowances. Due to their close economic relations, both partners have an interest in linking their emissions trading systems (ETS). The Swiss Federal Council and the EU Council of Ministers issued mandates for the holding of the corresponding negotiations. The first round of negotiations held on 8 March 2011 in Brussels was preceded by exploratory discussions which had been held since 2008.

On the occasion of the first round of negotiations, it was noted that a future agreement should include both provisions for the CO2 emissions of stationary installations (e.g. factories) and for the CO2 emissions generated by aviation.

The EU's negotiating delegation is led by Jos Delbeke, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Climate Action. The leader of the Swiss delegation is Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment.

The proposed agreement on the mutual recognition of the emissions allowances aims to eliminate the market boundaries between the Swiss and EU emissions trading systems. For Switzerland this would mean that Swiss companies could gain access to the considerably larger and more liquid European emissions market and, therefore, greater flexibility in the fulfilment of their emissions targets.

The Swiss Federal Council has also proposed that the Swiss ETS be adapted in the context of the ongoing complete revision of the CO2 Act with a view to attaining a high level of compatibility with the EU ETS. This would pave the way for a successful linking of the two systems.

Another focus of the first round of negotiations was the exchange of information about current developments in the area of emissions trading in Switzerland and the EU. The cases of fraud and attacks on various emissions trading registries were also discussed in this context.

Address for enquiries

FOEN: Yvan Keckeis; ; Tel: +41 (0)31 324 71 84
Swiss Mission to the European Union, Brussels: Sabrina Dallafior; ; +32 2 286 13 04


Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications