Swiss law requires big reductions in CO2 emissions by 2020. Reductions are below target, so from 1 January 2016 the government is increasing the tax from CHF 60 to CHF 84 per tonne of CO2 emitted as allowed by law. In particular, those who heat with gas and oil will pay more in 2016. Electricity costs will rise too. The tax increase translates to a rise from 16 to 22 centimes per litre of heating oil or a rise from 12 to 17 centimes per cubic metre of gas. Electricity emissions tax will rise from 1.1 to 1.3 centimes per kWh. An average household consumes around 4,000 kWh of electricity a year so the related tax increase here will cost an average household an additional CHF 8 in 2016.
The CO2 tax was introduced on 1 January 2008 at a rate of CHF 12 per tonne of CO2 emitted. Since then it has risen to CHF 84 (from 1 January 2016) and could by law rise further if future targets are not met. CO2 emissions are split between heating and motoring. The taxes relate only to heating emissions. Swiss heating emissions have reduced by 21.4% since 1990 from 23.4 to 18.4 million tonnes, however these reductions are below target and mean the government can by law raise the taxes – red crosses on the chart below show the missed targets.
The tax is largely neutral. Most of the money collected is redistributed to Swiss residents via reductions to health insurance premiums and social security payments (AVS). The remainder funds incentives to encourage people to improve building environmental performance and fund the advancement of environment-saving technology.
Swiss motoring emissions have risen by 10% since 1990. These statistics exclude emissions from flying and shipping and Swiss consumption of aviation fuel has climbed since 1990. Overall Switzerland has made little progress.
At the same time subsidies for generating solar electricity will reduce by 14 percent from 1 January 2016. It seems the Swiss government has opted for more stick and less carrot in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
Swiss CO2 emissions statistics (in English)