Swiss referendum: voters support reducing carbon emissions amid melting glaciers

Swiss referendum: voters support reducing carbon emissions amid melting glaciers

Switzerland’s voters have shown their support for a new climate bill aimed at reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Swiss government emphasises the need to safeguard energy security and protect the environment as the Swiss Alps experience rapid glacier melting. The approved legislation will necessitate a transition away from imported oil and gas and towards renewable energy sources.

During the referendum held on Sunday, 59.1% of voters endorsed the green energy proposals, despite opposition claims that the measures would lead to increased energy costs. With the exception of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), all major political parties in Switzerland backed the bill. The SVP triggered the referendum by opposing the government’s initial proposals.

Switzerland currently imports around three-quarters of its energy, relying entirely on foreign sources for oil and natural gas. The climate bill includes financial commitments totaling 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.2 billion; £1.7 billion) over a decade to support the adoption of climate-friendly alternatives to gas and oil heating systems. Additionally, 1.2 billion Swiss francs will be allocated to incentivize green innovation among businesses.

The urgency of the climate bill stems from the alarming vulnerability of the Alps’ glaciers to rising temperatures caused by climate change. Between 2001 and 2022, these glaciers lost a third of their ice volume. Notably, Swiss glaciologist Matthias Huss, an expert closely monitoring the retreat of the glaciers, celebrated the “strong signal” sent by the referendum’s outcome, highlighting the acknowledgement of climate science arguments.

Valerie Piller Carrard, a parliamentarian from the Socialist Party, regarded the result as a significant step towards securing a better future for upcoming generations. Furthermore, voters overwhelmingly supported another proposal in a separate referendum, with 78.5% in favour of implementing a global minimum tax of 15% for multinational corporations. This move aligns with Switzerland’s previous commitment to an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreement on establishing a minimum tax rate for large companies, which was signed by nearly 140 countries in 2021.

The high acceptance rate of the climate bill and the multinational tax proposal demonstrates Switzerland’s willingness to address pressing global issues. Although the referendum saw a participation rate of around 42%, the outcomes reflect the country’s dedication to combating climate change and promoting international fiscal responsibility.


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