Switzerland to vote on law making CO2 more expensive

The Swiss will vote on a CO2 law this Sunday which foresees financial incentives for green initiatives and investments, while airline tickets, heating oil and fuel would become more expensive. But whereas 60 percent of those polled were in favour of the bill at the end of April, the approval rate has now dropped to 54 percent. And this is not the only cause for concern among observers.

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Le Temps (CH) /

Polluter pays principle won't save the climate

The legislation doesn't go far enough, historian Grégoire Gonin complains in Le Temps:

“Absolutely necessary but totally insufficient: the law leaves one baffled. The polluter pays principle, which has existed at least since the beginning of the 19th century, marked a turning point in the fight for environmental protection. Instead of banning harmful activities, fines are now imposed. 'The idea is no longer to protect public health, but industry', François Jarrige and Thomas Le Roux state in their 2017 book The Contamination of the World. Unsurprisingly, commercialising nature will not prevent emissions from rising. The laughable penalties won't bother Swiss car importers when it comes to selling entire divisions of the tanks that we now call SUVs.”

NZZ am Sonntag (CH) /

Rewards over punishment

The law goes in exactly the right direction, NZZ am Sonntag argues:

“The bill relies on an incentive tax: the solution that has been known for decades to be most effective economically because it doesn't simply prohibit behaviour but is fair to polluters while rewarding environmentally friendly action. ... One can complain that it's too bad that not all revenues generated will be redirected back to the people and the economy. Or, on the other side of the political spectrum, one can continue to dream of immediate zero emissions targets or join in climate demonstrations without it costing anything. However the fact is that if we insist now on abstract political ideals and don't vote yes, the climate discussion will be nothing but meaningless chitchat.”

Heidi.news (CH) /

Honour international pledges

Switzerland is so far behind other countries on climate policy that it has no choice but to adopt the law, political scientist Karin Ingold stresses in Heidi.news:

“While the EU and Germany are discussing expanding their climate targets - aiming for a 65 percent reduction or even net zero emissions - Switzerland has failed to quickly and efficiently introduce a CO2 law aimed at cutting emissions by even 50 percent. Switzerland is committed to and has signed the Paris Agreement. The current CO2 law and the bill we're now voting on are essential if we want to keep our international promises and not lose our credibility.”