Transport emissions in Switzerland fell below 1990 levels between 2019 and 2020, due to the COVID-19-related economic slowdown, and an associated reduction in car travel. After peaking in 2008, total transport emissions have gradually fallen since then as vehicle emissions standards have been strengthened in line with EU regulations. However, transport remains the largest single emissions source, at 31% of total emissions. A further strengthening of these standards from the previous level of 130 gCO₂/km in place since 2012, to 95 gCO₂/km for new cars from 2020, combined with steeply rising EV sales should see total transport emissions continue to fall over the coming years.
Switzerland’s current target of reaching a 15% share of EVs by 2022 lacks ambition; in 2021, the share of electric passenger car sales, including plug-in hybrids, already surpassed it, reaching 22%. Subsequent targets over the medium term would need to aim for a far higher penetration of EVs to ensure the steep emissions reductions needed over the short- and long-term. The amended CO₂ Act rejected in 2021 included specific 2030 emissions reduction targets for different vehicle classes, but these have been removed from the latest proposal. To enable the necessary transformation required to align to a 1.5°C pathway, Switzerland would need to scale up EV sales to achieve at latest 100% by 2035, global 1.5°C compatible benchmark, if not earlier. Encouraging modal shift with greater investment in infrastructure for low- and zero-emission forms of transport like public transport, walking, and cycling will reduce the overall number of EVs needed to decarbonise the sector.
To ensure the Swiss transport sector is aligned with 1.5°C compatible pathways, CO₂ emissions would need to fall by at least 55% below 2019 levels, reaching zero by 2050. The electrification rate would need to increase more than fourfold to at least 22%, but as much as 68% by 2030.