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Home News Swiss government aims for zero-emission policy

Swiss government aims for zero-emission policy

Published on 11/08/2021

Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has presented government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

She said the proposal was a counter-project to a people’s initiative handed in by a broad alliance of climate organisations in 2019 and would seek certain exemptions.

“The government shares the aim of the initiative committee, but it is crucial that the environment policy be accepted by the business community and society, notably people living in rural and remote areas,” Sommaruga told a news conference on Wednesday.

She added that the government proposal would create a clear legal basis for the future and allow businesses to plan and invest in innovative technologies.

As an Alpine country, Switzerland has a strong interest in containing climate change, according to a government statement.

“Switzerland is well-placed to reach the zero-emission target by 2050 with its innovative spirit and solid finances,” it said.

The government proposal stops short of a strict ban on fossil fuels as foreseen by the initiative but allows for exceptions if no alternative energy sources are available.

Parliament still has to discuss the government proposal and the initiative before they are put to a nationwide vote next year or in 2023.


Sommaruga stressed it was important to find a compromise between different interest groups and to promote climate protection and a more environmentally friendly policy.

She said the government had learnt its lesson from the rejection by voters in June of a law seeking to halve CO2 by 2030 notably through an increase in the price of petrol and diesel.

“We have to proceed step by step and reach a broad compromise,” Sommaruga said, pointing out that the awareness of climate protection differed between the urban and rural population.

However, environmental groups and the Green Party have criticised the government’s plans as “not ambitious enough” and “insufficient”.

The proposal confirms previous decisions by the government, notably the long-term climate strategy, according to Sommaruga.