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Switzerland must reach climate neutrality before 2050

A new study has found that the goal of achieving net zero climate impact by 2050 is unfair to poorer countries. Quickly phasing out fossil energy would also create significant economic advantages.

Switzerland intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, meeting the requirements of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, Jürg Rohrer, professor at the Institute of Natural Resource Sciences, believes that Switzerland’s target is insufficient. His research demonstrates that Switzerland must achieve net zero by 2035 in order to make a fair contribution.

The biggest slice of the cake goes to the wealthy

The reason is that Switzerland’s starting point is higher compared to other countries that emit less carbon dioxide per capita. Countries with higher emissions would have to phase out faster than others if the quota still available worldwide was divided equally among countries based on the size of their populations. If all countries stick to the 2050 target, global temperature might increase by 1.7 to 2 degrees Celsius. As Rohrer explains, even though Switzerland and other industrialised countries are the main drivers of climate change, Switzerland is also claiming a larger budget for itself for the next 30 years. In other words, those who have already eaten most of the cake will continue to receive the biggest pieces in the future, says Rohrer.

Help people save energy

The professor clarifies that the wealth of richer countries is largely based on fossil energy sources. “It would therefore be beneficial for some of the funds to be invested in strategies and technologies that are more accessible to poorer countries”. Rohrer emphasises that a rapid switch to renewable energy sources is possible and would also have economic benefits, as the current energy crisis demonstrates. For example, it would encourage the introduction of energy efficiency measures and reduce energy costs. In addition, switching to renewable energy could help us become less dependent on foreign countries, says Rohrer.

Study: “The Swiss climate target under the microscope” (in German)