Swiss nix proposed carbon law

A new CO2 law was narrowly rejected, with 51.6 percent of voters opposing it in a nationwide referendum conducted under the coun-try’s system of direct democracy. | Screencap via swissinfo.ch

ZURICH (Reuters) — Swiss voters have rejected a trio of environmental proposals, including a new law intended to help the country meet its goal for cutting carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

A new CO2 law was narrowly rejected, with 51.6 percent of voters opposing it in a nationwide referendum conducted under the country’s system of direct democracy.

The result was a defeat for the Swiss government, which supported the new law that included measures such as increasing a surcharge on car fuel and imposing a levy on flight tickets.

The rejection means it will now be “very difficult” for Switzerland to reach its 2030 goal of cutting carbon emissions to half of their 1990 levels and to be become net neutral on emissions by 2050, said environment minister Simonetta Sommaruga.

The government will now seek to extend uncontroversial measures like a duty for fuel importers to invest in climate protection projects, and attempt to forge a new consensus with the population on climate policies, she added.

Also rejected was a proposal that would have made Switzerland only the second country to ban artificial pesticides outright, and another proposal to reduce their use by redirecting subsidies to farmers who no longer used the chemicals.

Supporters had argued that pesticides were linked to health risks, while opponents claimed a ban on pesticides would lead to more expensive food, job losses for the Swiss food processing industry and greater dependence on imports.

Antoinette Gilson, one of the authors of the artificial pesticides initiative, said the results did not mean the Swiss were unconcerned about the environment, but were more worried about immediate problems.

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