Extension of climate policy measures
Amendment to vehicle emission standards

On 4 May 2020 the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication launched the consultation process for a partial revision of the CO2 Ordinance.(1) Amendments to the ordinance are necessary to extend certain climate protection measures until the end of 2021, as recently decided by Parliament.


Switzerland should pursue its climate targets without interruption and continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 by a further 1.5% compared with 1990.

The total revision of the CO2 Act for the period following 2020 has yet to be completed by Parliament (for further details please see "Revised CO2 Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars" and "Revision of Federal Act on the Reduction of CO2 Emissions").(2) Therefore, in December 2019 Parliament decided to extend certain climate protection measures in the CO2 Act that were due to expire at the end of 2020 until the end of 2021. In addition, the partial revision of the CO2 Act is based on a parliamentary initiative regarding the time extension for tax reductions for natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and biogenic fuels.

The required amendments to the CO2 Ordinance are subject to consultation until 25 August 2020.

Extension of climate policy measures

The current CO2 Act provides for, among other things, the following two Swiss climate policy measures which were due to expire at the end of 2020 but have now been extended until the end of 2021:

  • an exemption from CO2 tax (with the obligation to reduce emissions) for operators of emission-intensive installations; and
  • a compensation obligation for fossil fuel importers.

Further, the Swiss emissions trading system, which was due to expire at the end of 2020, has been linked to the EU emissions trading system since the beginning of 2020 and is no longer subject to a time limit (for further details please see "Latest environmental legislation in effect and in the pipeline – 2020 overview").

The revision of the CO2 Ordinance allows these measures to be implemented properly and aims to steadily reduce Switzerland's CO2 emissions from fuels. In particular, the ordinance allows the CO2 tax to be increased up to Sfr120 per ton of CO2 if CO2 emissions from fossil fuels do not fall sufficiently. The revision extends this instrument so that the tax may also be increased from 1 January 2022 if fuel emissions do not fall sufficiently in 2020.

Amendment to vehicle emission standards

A further amendment to the CO2 Ordinance concerns the emission standards for passenger cars, vans and light semi-trailers.

Since September 2017, both the European Union and Switzerland have measured the CO2 emissions of new car models according to the new worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure (WLTP). The results from WLTP tests are closer to actual fuel consumption and show approximately 25% higher emission values than the results achieved following the old method.

The proposed amendment to the CO2 ordinance replaces the target values for 2021 to 2024, as determined under the old measurement procedure, with the equivalent WLTP target values to maintain the emissions reduction required from vehicle importers.

For further information on this topic please contact Michael Lips or Evelyn Frei at Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law by telephone (+41 44 217 91 11) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at


(1) CO2 Ordinance, SR 641.711.

(2) CO2 Act, SR 641.71.