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Federal Council Approves Mandate for Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

2009-11-27 16:38:40
Friday 22:45:39
November 27 2009

Federal Council Approves Mandate for Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

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Bern - The international community will negotiate measures against climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference from 7 to 18 December in Copenhagen (DK). Switzerland supports the adoption of a binding and comprehensive agreement that would involve commitments on the part of both existing and newly industrialised countries. It will reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by between 20 and 30 percent by 2020. This was decided by the Federal Council on 27 November 2009.

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15) will take place from 7 to 18 December 2009 in Copenhagen. The fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, a sub-agreement of the Climate Convention in which the industrialised countries committed to concrete reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, will also take place in the Danish capital over the same period. The efforts initiated in recent years to resolve the climate problem are due to be finalised at this UN Climate Change Conference. The most important issues up for negotiation in Copenhagen are:

1. The reduction in the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases.
2. Adaptation to the already perceptible effects of climate change.
3. Technology transfer to developing countries.
4. The financing of mitigation and adaptation measures.

1. Emission reduction objectives to 2020 ...
The Federal Council approved the Swiss Delegation's negotiation mandate at its meeting of 27 November 2009. According to the mandate, like the EU, Switzerland aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent as compared with 1990 levels by 2020. It will reduce its emissions over the same period by 30 percent if other industrialised countries commit to comparable objectives and the newly industrialised countries also undertake to stem the increase in their greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the Federal Council confirms the targets it set out for the revision of the CO2 Act in August 2009.

... and to 2050

In addition to these short-term measures, which should extend the obligations entered into under the Kyoto Protocol for the period 2013 to 2020, objectives extending to 2050 will be formulated in Copenhagen under the heading "shared vision". To ensure that the average global temperature does not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius as compared with the pre-industrial era, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by between 50 and 85 percent by 2050 (as compared with 1990 levels). This conclusion was reached by the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in its report of 2007. For the industrialised countries this means a reduction in emissions by 80 to 95 percent as compared with 1990.

Switzerland supports this 2-degree objective and favours a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least a 50 percent by 2050. It is prepared rethink this objective if new scientific findings support such a change. Moreover, it requires substantial commitments on the part of newly-industrialised countries like China, India and Brazil.

Other fields of action for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

At least 17 percent of global CO2 emissions originate from deforestation and forest degradation in developing and newly industrialised countries. It will be almost impossible to achieve the 2-degree objective if this process is not halted. Therefore, solutions must be found in Copenhagen for supporting developing countries in the conservation of their forests ("Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries, REDD+"). Switzerland would like this issue to be regulated in a future climate agreement.

Switzerland would also like the new climate agreement to regulate international aviation and shipping emissions and to include agriculture in its provisions.

2. Adaptation to the already perceptible impacts of climate change

Climate change, the effects of which are already perceptible today, is mainly caused by the industrialised countries. For this reason, these states have already undertaken to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol for the period 2008 to 2012. Despite this, adaptation measures are required, in particular in developing countries where the effects of climate change are already causing extensive damage (drought, flooding etc.). These countries often lack the resources and knowledge to adapt to climate change. The developing countries are therefore dependent on financial assistance and technological support from rich countries.

The way in which the international cooperation in the area of adaptation should be organised, how the risks should be managed (by means of an insurance solution), what form the adaptation strategies in the developing countries should take and how they should be incorporated into different policy fields will be discussed in Copenhagen.

3. Technology transfer

In Switzerland's view, the private sector has a key role to play in the development and transfer of climate-friendly technologies. As a research and technology location, Switzerland supports the development and transfer of environmentally friendly technologies. Therefore, it advocates the creation by developing countries of favourable conditions for technology transfer that will enable the greater involvement of the private sector (for example, the protection of intellectual property to ensure that exported technology is not copied).

4. Finance

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change will generate immense costs throughout the world. Current estimations are between one and several hundred billion US dollars per year. One of the issues to be clarified in Copenhagen concerns the mechanism to be used in the raising and distribution of the necessary finance. The question arises, in particular, as to how the states can mobilise capital through legislation, taxation or start-up finance that will flow into climate-friendly technologies and contribute in this way to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The topics up for discussion here include, inter alia, the generation of finance on the basis of the polluter-pays principle (Swiss proposal for a global CO2 levy) or imposition of levies on the trade in emissions certificates (see Fact Sheet).

Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger has proposed a global CO2 levy to finance measures for adaptation to climate change. The levy is based on the polluter-pays principle and excludes the poorest countries. This proposal will be debated in Copenhagen. It is conceivable that it will be combined with other finance proposals.

Copenhagen agreement

The aim in Copenhagen is to reach a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol so that the industrialised countries can continue and intensify their existing emission reduction commitments. Without the involvement of the USA, which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and an undertaking on the part of the newly industrialised countries, it will not be possible to achieve the 2-degree objective. It is unlikely that a comprehensive agreement on a new legally binding regime will be reached in Copenhagen. It is expected instead that the basic features of the new regime will be decided. The concrete elements, including the specific commitments, will have to be negotiated in a process that will take place after the conference.

Switzerland will advocate the most binding possible outcome and continuation of the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, that is: concrete and binding reduction objectives, flexible mechanisms (including trade in certificates) and a transparent monitoring system.

The Swiss Delegation

Switzerland will be represented at the ministerial segment of the conference from 16 to 18 December 2009 by Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger. His deputy is the Director of FOEN, Bruno Oberle, who is granted the title State Secretary for the duration of the conference. The head of the technical negotiation delegation, who will be present in Copenhagen from 6 to 18 December, is Ambassador Thomas Kolly, Head of the International Affairs Division at the FOEN. The Swiss delegation also includes representatives of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss), and the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

The delegation also includes two representatives from the fields of science, business and the environmental and development organisations, and a youth representative.

Contact information for the Swiss Delegation:

  • 7 to 18 December 2009: Thomas Kolly, Ambassador, Leader of the Negotiation Delegation, FOEN, Tel.+41 (0)79 828 48 45
  • 7 to 18 December 2009: José Romero, Co-Leader of the Negotiation Delegation, FOEN, Tel. +41(0)79 251 90 69
  • 7 to 18 December 2009: Adrian Aeschlimann, Head of the Media Office, FOEN, Tel.+41 (0)79 277 51 83
During the ministerial segment of the conference (16 to 18 December 2009):
  • For contact with Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger: Dominique Bugnon, DETEC Press Spokesman, Tel.+41(0)79 367 08 43 (in Copenhagen on 17 and 18 December 2009)
  • Bruno Oberle, Director of FOEN, Tel.+41(0)79 277 51 83 (in Copenhagen from 12 to 18 December 2009)
Address for enquiries:
telephone on +41 (0)31 322 90 00

Source by DATEC

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