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Current situation

What is Switzerlandʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Emissions profile

Switzerland’s power sector is already close to achieving zero carbon status, with just a small amount of natural gas generation remaining.1 Transport sector emissions in 2018 were slightly higher than 1990 levels, increasing its share of total emissions to roughly a third – the largest sectoral emissions source.2 Building sector emissions have fallen over the same period, but remain high at 25% of total emissions in 2018.

Industry and agriculture emissions have fallen only slightly since 1990, making up 21% and 13% of total emissions in 2018 respectively, which is the same share of total emissions as in 1990. Total emissions under current policies are projected to reach between 26-31% below 1990 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF).3

1 IEA. World Energy Balances 2020 Edition. (2020).

2 Government of Switzerland. Switzerland. 2020 Common Reporting Format (CRF) Table.

3 Climate Action Tracker. Switzerland – November 2020 Update.

4 Swiss Federal Office of Energy. CO2 emission regulations for new cars and light commercial vehicles.

5 Bundesamt für Energie. Energieverbrauch und Energieeffizienz der neuen Personenwagen und leichten Nutzfahrzeuge 2019. (2020).

6 Bundesamt für Energie. Faktenblatt Vollzug der CO2-Emissionsvorschriften für Personenwagen 2017 Neuzugelassene Personenwagen und ihre CO2-Emissionen. (2018).

7 Bundesamt für Energie & Bundesamt für Strassen. Roadmap Elektromobilität 2022. (2018).

8 ACEA. Fuel types of new cars: diesel -23.6%, electric +33.1% in fourth quarter of 2018 | ACEA – European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

9 ACEA. Fuel types of new cars: diesel -17.9%, petrol +3.3%, electric +40.0% in first quarter of 2019 | ACEA – European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

10 ICAP. Swiss ETS. (2020).

11 Schweizer Parlament. Bundesgesetz über die Verminderung von Treibhausgasemissionen (CO2-Gesetz). (2020).

12 Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Switzerland’s Fourth Biennial Report under the UNFCCC. (2020).

13 der Bundesrat. Verordnung vom 30. November 2012 über die Reduktion der CO2 Emissionen. (2012).

14 Schweizer Parlament. Bundesgesetz über die Verminderung von Treibhausgasemissionen (CO2-Gesetz).

15 Swiss Confederation. Revision of the CO2 law: Explanatory report on the consultation draft. (2021).

16 Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Switzerland’s Fourth Biennial Report under the UNFCCC.(2020).

17 ICAP. ICAP Allowance Price Explorer. (2022).

18 European Alternative Fuels Observatory. Switzerland – Vehicles and fleet. (2022).

19 Kuramochi, T. et al. Ten key short-term sectoral benchmarks to limit warming to 1.5°C. Clim. Policy (2017).

20 Some pathways include sinks based on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

21 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

Switzerlandʼs current GHG emissions

MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values

By sector

  • Transport
  • Buildings
  • Industry (energy use)
  • Power
  • Fugitive emissions
  • Other
  • Agriculture
  • Industry (processes)
  • Waste
  • LULUCF
Energy (75%)⟵ LULUCF negative emissions

By gas

  • CO₂
  • CH₄
  • N₂O
  • Other
078%0

Sectors by gas

Energy
099%0
Agriculture
067%0
Industry (processes)
00

Energy system

While Switzerland’s high penetration of renewables and nuclear energy mean its power sector is almost decarbonised, a lack of stringent policies in the transport sector has allowed it to become the only sector to see higher emissions in 2019 than 1990 levels.2

Vehicle emissions standards for new cars are in line with those adopted by the EU; a maximum of 95 gCO₂/km for light vehicles and 147 gCO₂/km for vans and light trucks in 2020.4 However, in 2020 average values in Switzerland for these two vehicle classes sat at 124 and 176 gCO₂/km respectively, falling considerably short of these 2020 targets.5-9

The share of fossil fuels in total primary energy was 54% in 2017, primarily due to consumption of petroleum products in the transport sector and natural gas in the buildings sector.1

Targets and commitments

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Base year emissions target

NDC target

Overall NDC Target:

  • As expressed by the country: at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2030 (incl. LULUCF).
  • Re-expressed excluding LULUCF below selected baseline: 48-50% below 1990 levels by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).

Domestic NDC Target:

  • 30% below 1990 levels by 2030 (incl. LULUCF).

Market mechanism

  • Swiss emissions trading scheme was linked to the EU ETS in January 2020 and covers the power, industry, and aviation sector (domestic and EEA destinations).10

Long-term target

  • Net zero GHG emissions by 2050 (incl. LULUCF).

Sector coverage

EnergyTransportIndustryWasteAgricultureLULUCF

Greenhouse gas coverage

CO₂CH₄PFCsNF₃HFCsN₂OSF₆

Sectoral targets

Transport

  • 15% electric vehicle share of new vehicle sales by 2022.7
  • 15% reduction in passenger vehicle emissions below 2020 levels between 2025-2029, 37.5% below 2021 level in 2030.11
  • 31% reduction in van and light truck emissions below 2021 levels by 2030.11
  • 30% reduction in heavy duty vehicle emissions below 2020 levels by 2030.11

Agriculture

  • At least a 33% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.12

Footnotes