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Paris Climate Agreement - What are the benefits of Swiss CO2 reductions abroad?

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Switzerland relies on climate protection measures abroad because these are usually cheaper. Their record is not rosy.

The previous treaty to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, made it possible for states and companies to reduce emissions in another country and acquire certificates for them.

However, with extremely limited success, says Patrick Hofstetter, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF Switzerland and a long-time expert on international climate diplomacy: "More than three quarters of the reductions would have been achieved without the sale of certificates." The hoped-for additional effect for climate protection did not materialize.

From an atmospheric point of view, it is important that global emissions decrease as quickly as possible. Regardless of where this happens.
Author: Franz PerrezEnvironmental Ambassador at the Federal Office for the Environment

In other words: an industrialized country has built a wind turbine in a developing country, for example, and has credited itself with a certain reduction in CO2, although the wind turbine would actually have been built without the support of the industrialized country.

What's new: Under the Paris Agreement, all countries - including the developing countries - have their own reduction targets that they must achieve. Emission reductions in one country in another still make sense, says Franz Perrez, ambassador to the Federal Office for the Environment and chief negotiator for Switzerland at international climate conferences.

“From an atmospheric point of view, it is important that global emissions decrease as quickly as possible. Regardless of where this happens, ”said Perrez. If Switzerland were to reduce emissions abroad in addition to domestic emissions, that would help reduce global emissions.

However, the states have so far not been able to agree on specific rules for such reductions in one country in another within the framework of the Paris Climate Agreement. Because, according to the CO2 Act, Switzerland wants to achieve up to a quarter of its own reduction target abroad by 2030, it has started to conclude bilateral agreements with developing countries.

Hofstetter from the WWF thinks these agreements are better than nothing: “But something like that has short legs. At some point Switzerland will have to reduce its emissions to zero itself. "

In fact, only a handful of other industrialized countries have relied on such emission reductions abroad. Also, because there is a risk that emissions will be “cemented” in your own country, that is, they will be tackled with less ambition. That would actually run counter to the goals of the Paris Agreement, says Perrez from the Bafu.

Reductions also in Germany

However, Perrez repeats: "The emissions reductions abroad should take place in addition to and not instead of the most ambitious domestic emissions reductions possible." Even if Perrez currently considers climate protection projects abroad to be sensible, he admits that they have a limited lifespan because, after all, all countries have to reduce their emissions to zero as far as possible.

Even those in which Switzerland does climate protection on and for its own account: “The faster these emissions decrease, the less room there is for foreign offsets. They become more expensive and increasingly focus on complex areas. In thirty years, Switzerland will be able to compensate far less abroad. "

The climate diplomat and WWF experts agree that there is no way around it, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at home as quickly as possible - whether climate protection abroad accelerates or rather hinders this remains controversial.

Rendez-vous on December 29th, 2020, 12:30 p.m.

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  • Comment from Ueli Lang (weekly resident)
    The focus should actually be the efficient and effective reduction of CO2 - in other words, the project. Its location is irrelevant! The point is to spend the available funds in a target-focused and optimal way. From that point of view, it doesn't matter where that is supposed to be. Unless someone would like to benefit from the windfall, but do not provide the appropriate service - then we end up in an inefficient solution! Doesn't matter, it's everyone else's money anyway!
    Agree agree to the comment
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    No money in the world changes a basic attitude! Fundamental insight is required for positive changes! Humans have NO CHOICE, either insight and responsible adjustment, or further successive, holistic destruction of their own "livelihood"! Neither the CORONA pandemic nor other virus mutations have so far achieved a holistic rethinking and thus necessary active changes in: AGRICULTURAL economic world economic policy worldwide?
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