On 20 December 2010 the Council authorised the European Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation for a link between the EU and the Swiss greenhouse gas emissions trading systems (ETSi). This mandate will allow for negations to start in 2011.
This is the first time that the EU seeks a connection with an existing such scheme, whilst at the same time complementing the extension of the EU trading scheme to Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
Currently, the Swiss ETS constitutes a voluntary alternative to a domestic CO2-tax on fuel. It covers energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by around 400 companies. Preliminary data from the Swiss government for 2009 indicates that the scheme applies to around 6.5% of the 52m tonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted by Switzerland per year. Switzerland is currently reforming its CO2-legislation; in this context, the Government is proposing to make the Swiss ETS more compatible with the EU's trading system. The Parliament will most likely adopt the new CO2-law by the end of September 2011. The linkage with the EU ETS led to some discussions in the Parliamentary debate and is not yet definitively decided.
Georges Spicher (Director of cemsuisse) indicates that the negotiations between the EU and Switzerland will not materialise until the final adoption of the new CO2-law by the two Chambers of the Swiss Parliament. This will most likely not be the case before December 2011.
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