The Swiss parliament last year ratified the Paris agreement which aims to reduce global warming by obliging each country to set ‘nationally determined' objectives to reduce CO2 emissions every five years.
By signing up to the agreement, Switzerland is now required to help ensure that the global temperature rise this century is “clearly” below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and to work towards keeping that increase down to 1.5C.
The Swiss government has already recommended Switzerland commit to halving its CO2 emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
But the backers of the new ‘Gletscherschutzinitiative' (or glacier protection initiative) want to go a step further and give a final date for the use of fossil fuels – a detail not specified in the Paris agreement or by the Swiss government, as Swiss daily the Tages Anzeiger reports.
“Carbon-based fuels will not be allowed to be used for transport by 2050 at the latest,” reads the draft text of the initiative which has the backing of Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, among others.
The initiative has been a year in the works and the period for the collection of the 100,000 signatures required before a national referendum can be held is set to begin at the start of next year.
But initial reactions have not been positive. The current Swiss government goal of halving CO2 emissions by 2030 is already controversial and the new initiative arrives on the scene at a critical junction – just months before a parliamentary debate on the country's CO2 law for the period 2020–30 which is planned for this coming autumn.
Swiss business federation Economiesuisse described the glacier protection initiative as an attack on commercial freedoms while Swiss People's Party national councillor Stefan Müller-Altermatt described the initiative as a “transparent” attempt to influence the direction of the new CO2 law.
In 2017, Switzerland made steps to increase its investment in renewable sources of energy with its energy strategy 2050, which was passed by the people in a referendum.
As well as committing the country to withdrawing from nuclear power, the strategy focuses on exploiting hydropower and other renewable resources, increasing energy efficiency and tightening emissions rules for vehicles.