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Switzerland Sectors

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

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.2 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%.18 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.7 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.15 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.19 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.

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 energy mix in the transport sector

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
SSP1 High CDR reliance
Low energy demand
High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • Natural gas
  • Coal
  • Oil and e-fuels
  • Biomass
  • Biogas
  • Biofuel
  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen

Switzerlandʼs transport sector direct CO₂ emissions (of energy demand)


  • Historical emissions
  • High energy demand - Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • Low energy demand

1.5°C compatible transport sector benchmarks

Direct CO₂ emissions and shares of electricity, biofuels and hydrogen in the transport final energy demand from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Switzerland

Decarbonised transport sector by
Direct CO₂ emissions
4 to 7
1 to 3
0 to 1
2045 to 2054
Relative to reference year in %
−76 to −55%
−92 to −82%
−100 to −92%
Share of electricity
22 to 68
54 to 83
65 to 89
Share of biofuels
5 to 12
10 to 11
6 to 17
Share of hydrogen
1 to 3
5 to 33
10 to 30