Recently, Swiss scientists presented climate scenarios by 2060. Conclusion: If global greenhouse gas emissions can not be rapidly reduced, the summers become drier, the precipitation becomes more violent, the warming day is more numerous and the winter is less snowy. In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Switzerland is dependent on the carbon dioxide tax and emissions trading system (ETS), which entitles energy-intensive companies, for example, to power plants to release a certain amount of carbon dioxide. During the winter session, the Riksdag will now deal with this trading system: in the context of the carbon dioxide review, it will decide on an agreement as the first instance, which will link the Swiss ETS with the EU. The 54 companies that previously participated in Swiss emissions trading have thus gained access to the EU market with approximately 11,000 participants.
The agreement would have consequences especially for Swiss aviation, which for the first time would be included in the trade in emission allowances. So far, this sector has no climate measures, even though it accounts for about 18 percent of Swiss CO2 emissions. Globally, it is almost 5 percent. These emissions should now be reduced or at least limited by certificate trading. The effect is controversial. In the preliminary Advisory Committee on Environment, Regional Planning and Energy (Urek) of the Riksdag Council, the business was barely accepted by 13 to 12 votes. Among other things, it has voted, the Greenland Council Bastien Girod. "In ETS, firstly, only flights within Europe would be included, but not the more climateally harmful continental flights," he criticizes. "Second, the system creates too little incentive to even save CO2."
Too many certificates on the market
The issue of emissions trading is in the economic downturn in 2008: since then there are too many allowances on the market and they are too cheap. Thus, it is cheaper for companies to continue to issue greenhouse gases and compensate them with purchased certificates instead of reducing emissions by investing in climate-friendly technologies. The EU is therefore planning to increase prices through lack of allowances. From Bastien Girod's point of view, these efforts are not enough. They would take too late, he says and argues instead of an environmental tax on airline tickets, which has been demanded several times before. Just last year, Coalition Air Transport, Environment and Health (Klug), a wide alliance of associations, foundations and parties, came to the federal council with concern. On Tuesday she bitched again at the Federal Palace.
"A ticket tax is absolutely necessary," Girod is convinced. "So far, this requirement has never had a chance. It is a good sign that the Commission's business has now been through extremely thin." The same opinion is expressed by SP's national advisor Eric Nussbaumer, who is also on the Commission. He will make a minority application for an airline tax during the winter session. Unlike Girod, however, he sees this measure as a supplement to emissions trading, which he really considers to be an appropriate instrument. "Although urgent reforms are needed to raise emission allowances, climate policy must be managed globally – we should therefore do everything we can to create a common emissions trading scheme."
Airline tax not new
However, there is also serious doubt about the effectiveness of ETS in aviation. Florian Brunner, project leader fossil energy and climate at the Swiss Energy Foundation SES, points to the industry's huge growth. "It is estimated that global CO2 emissions from air traffic will be doubled between 2014 and 2030. Although the EU would reform the ETS, this measure is not close enough." Brunner also advocates a "fast and easy" airline tax. "There is already such a fee in twelve other European countries. Especially in Britain, where it is up to 180 euros, passenger numbers have fallen," he said.
Both the authorities and the Swiss airlines have airline tax a difficult position. The latter defend the argument of a competitive disadvantage. They warn of a "national solo effort". The Federal Office for Civil Aviation also rescues Swiss passengers to fly at airports abroad. The expected environmental impact can even lead to the opposite due to overtaking traffic. Brunner strongly opposes this: "In other countries, tax is already available. So it would not be a national solo effort. And because the aviation industry is a huge growth market, such a fee would not swiftly swap immediately.
Additional costs for passengers
Regardless of the economic disadvantages of industry, the Federal Aviation Civil Aviation Office believes that emissions trading is the better incentive for carbon dioxide reduction. The ticket price, as it exists in other European countries, is not earmarked and would therefore be equal to a tax. "The money collected probably has no direct effect," said the federal agency. Of course, a global market would be more effective than just European emissions trading. One such is already planned: By 2020, the International Civil Aviation Organization plans to introduce the emissions trading "Corsia".
As the airline Switzerland announces on request, it welcomes the "globally orchestrated approach like Corsia". However, regional systems would lead to distortions of competition.
What a trade-off between the EU Emissions Trading System and Corsia can look is dependent on EU reforms. Anyway, the measures are likely to affect air fares soon. The federation expects additional costs incurred when purchasing the certificate. They are likely to "be transferred to the passengers in one way or another".
Comment: Keroskatt must be on the agenda