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Greenhouse gases Mixed report card for Swiss CO2 emissions

Swiss Easter tradition: Getting stuck in traffic in front of the Gotthard tunnel heading south, in this image, on Good Friday 2017


As many Swiss get stuck in traffic over the Easter break, the Swiss environment office says that transport-related CO2 emissions are higher than they should be. 

In a report published on Thursday, the Federal Office for the Environmentexternal link stated that Switzerland’s transport sector had not met its interim targets as defined by Swiss law and the Kyoto protocol. The office said that while road traffic emissions had dropped in recent years, they were still 4% above the 1990 level. The goal was to bring the level down to what it was in 1990, but in 2015, transport emissions added up to 15.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. As the office pointed out, modern vehicles are emitting less CO2, but the amount of mileage has increased. 

However, other sectors have kept Switzerland on track by meeting their targets and then some. For example, the building sector released 12.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2015 – 26% less than in 1990. The target was to cut emissions by 22%. Still, the environment office reported that many Swiss buildings rely on fossil fuels for heating, and the weather was mild in 2015. 

Industry emissions have fallen by 17% from 1990 levels – down to 10.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2015. The target was just 7%. The environment ministry attributed the decline to the closure of the Tamoil oil refinery in Collombey, canton Valais, and to the drop in cement production. 

Overall, greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland in 2015 amounted to 48.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents – or 0.6 million tonnes fewer than in 2014. 

The environment office submitted Switzerland’s greenhouse gas inventory to the United Nations Climate Secretariat on Thursday. The authorities believe that Switzerland can meet its target of 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 – but only under the right conditions and if emissions lie at the lower end of the estimates.

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