Climate Protection Act yes - also from the perspective of the economy

With a Yes to the Climate Protection Act, we are setting reasonable targets on the path to CO2 neutrality and determining initial, important measures. This is what Christian Zeyer, Co-Managing Director of swisscleantech, writes in a guest commentary.

In Switzerland, what is decided by parliament, but much better by the people, applies. Such a commitment to the necessary, ambitious climate protection does not yet exist in Switzerland. CO2 neutrality - essential for climate protection - has so far only been enshrined in a government declaration. Therefore, the most important goal of the upcoming vote is: to put climate policy on a sustainable basis. On 18 June, Switzerland will vote on the «Federal Law on Climate Protection Targets, Innovation and Strengthening Energy Security» (KlG).

In addition to clear, measurable and time-bound targets, the law includes initial measures. We all know that these measures alone do not guarantee that we will achieve the goal. But the law introduces important first steps. We will have to decide politically on all the next steps. One thing, however, is already laid down in the law today: Climate protection must be implemented in a socially acceptable way.

«Climate protection must be implemented in a socially acceptable way.»

Christian Zeyer Co-Managing Director of swisscleantech

Critics take this starting point as an opportunity to say that it is not possible to adopt goals without already knowing all the measures today. This argument is not convincing: every good, long-term plan focuses on an ambitious goal and sets intermediate goals along the way. The measures one sets at the beginning, however, do not necessarily have to be sufficient to also reach the final goal. For example, if you decide you want to run a marathon after a long period of physical inactivity, start with a leisurely walk. You can always decide anew about increasing the intensity.

This is just as true in politics and business. Rarely are all the measures necessary to achieve the goal known from the beginning. Rather, it is a sign of agile management to set the ambitious goal and develop the necessary measures with a sense of proportion.

The economy faces similar challenges. The requirement to reduce emissions to a minimum by 2050 is great. Ultimately, four pillars are decisive: Efficiency and emissions reduction, electrification, the replacement of fossil energies with renewable synthetic fuels and ultimately CO2 removal to offset the remaining emissions. Again, the goal is clear, but the details and the necessary steps need to be worked out.

"The economy depends on a secure supply of energy - preferably from renewable sources.»

Christian Zeyer Co-Managing Director of swisscleantech

The support for climate protection plans in the economy, which the law provides for, is oriented towards this idea. Anyone who wants to run a marathon is well advised to team up with a coach. This is exactly what the law wants to support. Anyone with practical experience in industrial production knows very well that the core competence in production must be to manufacture optimal products for the market. Complementing this with expertise in the area of energy efficiency makes it possible to optimise not only the product but also the consumption of resources and energy in the production process.

The advisory services that have been developed within the framework of the existing CO2 Act by the two organisations Cleantech Agentur Schweiz (Act) and Energieagentur der Wirtschaft (EnAW) are a successful model and are also attracting a great deal of attention abroad. This successful model is to be supplemented by «net zero» advice - for production without emissions - within the framework of the Act. This is a wise step.

But efficiency measures and targets as provided for in the Climate Protection Act are not enough. The economy depends on a secure supply of energy - if possible from renewable sources. That is why it is good that parliament is debating this issue at the moment and is also taking bold steps here.

Je nach Studie, die man konsultiert, sind die Kosten auf dem Weg zur klimatauglichen Schweiz etwa gleich oder leicht höher als ein «weiter wie bisher». Vermieden werden aber die Kosten des ungebremsten Klimawandels und galoppiernede Energiepreissteigerungen, wie wir sie gerade erlebt haben. Fakt ist: die Volkswirtschaft kann sich auf langsam steigende Energiepreise gut einstellen. Was problematisch ist, sind schockartige Veränderungen.

Ein beherztes Ja am 18.6. ist darum ein wichtiger und richtiger Schritt auf dem Weg zur klimatauglichen Schweiz! Die Wirtschaft jedenfalls steht – genau wie die meisten Parteien – hinter dem Gesetz.


Christian Zeyer