The fourth round of negotiations between Switzerland and the European Union on the linking of their respective CO2 emissions trading systems was held in Zurich.
Further progress was made at the negotiations. The aim of completing the technical negotiations by the end of the year was corroborated.Switzerland and the EU operate emissions trading systems (see box) with the aim of reducing emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases.
In late 2009, the Federal Council decided to hold negotiations with the EU on the linking of the two emissions trading systems. Significant progress was made at the fourth round of negotiations. The delegations were able to discuss and clarify, in part, a joint draft for an agreement. The agreement covers the sub-areas of industrial installations and aviation. In the case of the latter, expectations of the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to be held in autumn 2013, were also discussed.
Progress was also made on the technical issues. For example, details about the technical linking of the respective emissions trading registries were defined. The delegations also discussed the planned linking of Australia to the European emissions trading system, and the possible impacts of this on the linking of Switzerland.
The delegations mandated the technical working groups to further intensify their work and clarify the remaining technical issues quickly.
The timetable adopted at the last round of negotiations in October 2012, according to which the negotiations on the level of the delegation leaders shall be concluded in the course of this year, was corroborated.
The EU negotiating delegation was led by Jos Delbeke, Director General of the European Commission's Directorate General for Climate Action. The Swiss delegation was led by Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment.
Background information to the linking of the emissions trading systemsBoth Switzerland and the EU operate emissions trading systems (ETS). Under these systems, affected companies are obliged to forfeit one emission right for each tonne of CO2 emitted. These emission rights are tradable within the respective systems. The aim here is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by companies, for which this can be achieved as cheaply as possible. From 2013, Switzerland's ETS is based on the completely revised CO2 Act, which is largely compatible with the EU ETS.
The linking of the EU and Swiss ETS will guarantee that Swiss companies can buy and sell emission rights in a large, liquid market. Among other things, this will minimise possible competition distortions between the Swiss companies involved and their European competitors.