On June 12 2021, a referendum on Switzerland’s updated CO₂ Act failed to pass, pushing the Swiss 2030 domestic emissions target back to that recommended by the Federal Council in 2016, a 30% reduction below 1990 levels. The stronger 37.5% target included in Switzerland’s rejected CO₂ Act and updated NDC already failed to achieve compatibility with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit; the failure of the CO₂ Act and reversion to the previous target places them even further behind.
The proposed reformulation of the law, released in late 2021, waters down key elements of the rejected version, and fails to ensure Switzerland’s 2030 target is a sufficiently ambitious contribution to limiting warming to 1.5°C. A 63% reduction of domestic emissions below 1990 levels (excluding LULUCF) would place Switzerland’s 2030 target safely within a 1.5°C compatible range. More stringent policies, particularly for the transport and buildings sectors, would also be required to achieve such a target.
Switzerland has set the goal to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Paris Agreement compatible pathways show that excluding the contribution of LULUCF sinks, the country would already have negative emissions by 2050 of around -11 MtCO₂e/yr for some scenarios, thus having reached net zero GHG prior to that date. Other pathways show that this would mean for the country, remaining level of positive emissions not higher than 3-5 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050 to be aligned with Paris Agreement compatible pathway. Switzerland would then need to balance its remaining emissions through the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches, either by increasing its land sink(around -1 MtCO₂e/yr in 2018) or by developing technological options.