Last week while climate talks were going on in Paris, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) of Switzerland published a note lamenting Switzerland’s slide from 10th to 14th place in the Climate Change Performance Index.
Switzerland however, had lower emissions than all but one of the countries ahead of it in the ranking. Luxembourg, one place ahead, had 19.3 tonnes per resident per year, almost four times as much as Switzerland’s 4.9 tonne average.
1-3. Not awarded
4. Denmark (7.1)
5. Great Britain (6.5)
6. Sweden (4.6)
7. Belgium (8.7)
8. France (5.0)
9. Cyprus (6.3)
10. Morocco (1.8)
11. Italy (5.5)
12. Ireland (7.4)
13. Luxembourg (19.3)
14. Switzerland (4.9)
The figures in brackets are average per capita CO2 equivalent emissions per year in tonnes from the Edgar database for 2014.
Why such a low position?
Switzerland’s poor rank is not down high per capita emissions. Instead, like a high-potential school pupil doing quite well it has been penalised for not reaching its potential. Its per capita emissions might be declining but other countries are improving faster and offering more financial help to poorer countries. In addition it has one of the world’s highest per capita air travel emissions.
Some people are much worse emitters than others
The WWF points out that emissions vary enormously from person to person and explains why. Someone who takes a holiday in Australia, goes on a cruise ship, loves eating meat, rarely drinks tap water, drives to work every day and heats their home with diesel will have annual annual CO2 emissions 17.3 tonnes higher than someone who does none of these things.
Those who go on holiday in places like Australia instead of Switzerland or a country nearby can add an extra 8 tonnes of CO2 per trip. Taking a holiday on a cruise ships instead of camping will add 2.2 tonnes.
Food and drink
Those eating 2kg of meat a week rather than 300g will produce 1 tonne more CO2. Consuming bottled drinks instead of tap water will add an additional 0.4 tonnes.
Driving 20 km to and from work each day when you could take the train will add an extra 1.7 tonnes over a year. An electric car helps but only if the extra electricity consumed is produced cleanly. If it comes from a coal fired power station for example it will probably add to your emissions further.
If you heat your home with diesel your emissions will be 4 tonnes higher than if you had a heat pump to do the job.