The National Council takes a step towards carbon neutrality by 2050

Switzerland must have specific climate targets to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. On Wednesday, the National Chamber voted 134 to 56 to pass an indirect counter-draft to the Glacier Initiative, to the chagrin of the SVP.

Initiative and counterproject have the same goal. Both want to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The paths to achieving this, however, differ. The initiators are demanding a ban on fuels and fossil fuels such as oil, gas, gasoline or diesel.

intermediate goals

For the National, this is too extreme. In March, he narrowly rejected the initiative in favor of a direct counter-proposal from the Federal Council, thus giving his competent committee enough time to develop a counter-proposal of its own. Indirect, it has the advantage of setting specific goals directly in the law and thus speeding up the legislative process.

According to the text, by 2050 the construction and transport sectors should no longer emit CO2, while the industrial sector should reduce its emissions by 90%. The remaining emissions will have to be compensated. An interim target has also been set: Switzerland should cut its emissions by 75% from 1990 by 2040. Several incentive tools are provided.

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The deputies worked on this counterdraft on Tuesday. For lack of time, they had to interrupt their debate just before the last vote on a number of proposals from the left and the UDC. The pink-green camp advocates more ambitious goals, while the conservative party wants to reduce them as much as possible.

In particular, the SVP wanted to exclude any funding purpose from the law. Conversely, the left has demanded additional or more restrictive climate protection measures in the financial, construction and transport sectors. Emissions from air transport should also be included in the intermediate targets, she said. Neither proposal was successful.

Aid programs have been criticized

The Conservative Party also opposes a program to help industry and replace heating systems. The first, which provides 200 million francs a year for six years, aims to encourage companies to use new technologies and processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The other extends over a decade at a rate of 200 million a year. He intends to urge everyone to abandon their old installations that pollute the environment. Companies and citizens are already working in this direction, the Conservative Party noted. For example, they are replacing their fossil-based installations with heat pumps. But stocks are scarce and manpower is scarce.

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The cantons also already have very effective support tools. We have to give them control, he says. The proposed programs are disproportionate.

Attractive financial incentive

“Electric heaters should be replaced as soon as possible. The support program makes sense. This should be put in place as soon as possible,” Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told them on Wednesday.

“Replacing a heater is no easy task,” added committee spokesperson Roger Nordmann (PS/VD). “So once out of two, a fossil heater is replaced by a fossil heater.” And that won’t change for twenty or twenty-five years. Supporting owners to clean up their installations will increase the share of renewable installations.

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“The population does not want additional taxes,” reminded Susanne Vinzenz-Stauffacher (PLR/SG) also for the commission. The repeal of the CO2 law demonstrated this. Aid programs create an attractive financial incentive.

The program for industry passed the ramp easily. Help to replace the heaters had to be tempted a little harder. The document was adopted by 119 votes against 74. Part of the bourgeois camp rallied to the UDC.

Initiative removed from the game

After all, the National followed his instructions completely. Things could have been different in the Council of States, and now he has to get down to business.

Reread: The climate attracts a third of the elected officials of the National Council semi-cycle.

However, the initiators are quite satisfied with the indirect counter-project in its current version. They may even withdraw their initiative if it is accepted as is. The Federal Council would also support him. Senators may well take these elements into account in their deliberations.