Switzerland first to sign Climate Change INDC

Switzerland Releases New Climate Action Commitment

Switzerland is the first country to submit its post-2020 climate action plan.

Switzerland is the first country to officially submit its contribution known as the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris at the end of this year. The INDCs are to determine whether the world can reduce emissions enough to limit the global temperature to 2°C thus preventing some of the worst impacts of climate change. SIDS are more in favour of 1.5°C.

Swiss pathway for emissions reductions

The Switzerland plan is simple and straightforward. It’s comprehensive enough that the INDC can serve as a starting point for other countries when submitting their own plans.

Switzerland commits to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2025, 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 70-85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Their proposal also includes a wide coverage of greenhouse gases and sectors, allowing for maximum reduction opportunities.

However, the INDC allows for the country to heavily use international market mechanisms, such as offsets or through carbon trading, to reach its goals. For the 50 percent reduction goal, for example, up to two-fifths of the reductions could come from projects to reduce emissions beyond Swiss borders.

High Marks for Transparency

The Swiss INDC is also noteworthy in being highly transparent. The Swiss INDC aligns with many of the key elements, clearly describing:

  • The timeframe for the contribution, including expected emissions reductions in both 2025 and 2030;

  • How use of credits from market mechanisms, such as offsets, would avoid double-counting of reductions by more than one country and maintain environmental integrity; and

  • How the country views its contribution as fair and ambitious, as well as how it contributes to achieving the objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. For example, the INDC explicitly recognizes that GDP per capita, along with greenhouse gas emissions per capita, are important considerations in determining whether a contribution is fair.

Kicking Off Post-2020 Climate Action

While just a tiny country with a small fraction of global emissions, Switzerland has put forward a good starting model. It’s important that other countries follow suit with their own ambitious, comprehensive plans—both to curb climate change globally, and to keep the glaciers on top of Switzerland’s majestic mountains.

(WRI – Levin, Rich, Northrup)