Swiss Voters Narrowly Reject Key Climate Change Measures

Voters in Switzerland on June 13 narrowly rejected proposed key climate change measures aimed to meet goals under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

A proposed law aimed to reduce carbon emissions by increasing fees and taxes on fuels that produce greenhouse gases, including airline tickets, received a vote of 51% against and 49% in favor.

The “carbon dioxide law” would have increased the maximum tax on carbon dioxide emissions from 120 francs ($133) to 210 francs ($234) per ton.

Many of the voters appeared to have been worried about the economic impact of the law as the country attempts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Opponents of the proposed law also argued that Switzerland is responsible for only 0.1% of global carbon emissions.

The government now has to come up with new plans to reach their goals of cutting emissions to half of 1990 levels by 2030 and to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

Environmental group Greenpeace Switzerland said that it was “very disappointed and concerned” about the rejection of the proposed law in the ballots.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of rising gas prices, but rather the fact that our food supply is endangered with increasing heat and weather extremes, as well as water shortages,” the group said in a statement.

However, Environment and Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga assured that “today’s ‘no’ is not a ‘no’ to protecting the environment.”

“Many people want to strengthen protections of the environment but not in this way, not with this law. The government has understood this message,” Sommaruga said, as quoted by media company Bloomberg.

Swiss voters also rejected proposals to ban the use of artificial pesticides and to improve the quality of drinking water as farmers argued that the proposal would bring them out of business.

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