Switzerland Says Yes to More Climate Protection

news 19-Jun-2023 Europe

With almost 60 percent of the votes, the majority of Swiss citizens have voted in favor of a new climate protection law. While the Greens celebrate the referendum as a "victory for the climate", criticism comes from the right-wing SVP.

After the first projections, it was clear: A clear majority of Swiss citizens have said yes to the new climate protection law - according to Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) 59.1 percent. According to the figures, 40.9 percent voted against it.

The law aims to gradually reduce oil and gas consumption. For example, the transition to climate-friendly heating will be financially supported. Companies that invest in climate protection also receive money from the state - a total of 3.2 billion Swiss francs are earmarked. The goal is for Switzerland to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

The Greens described the referendum result as a "victory for the climate". Priska Wismer, an MP for the centrist party, spoke of a "concrete yes" to the Paris Climate Agreement, "to the goal of net zero by 2050." "And now we can continue on the path towards it." Appropriate measures will be taken, and "now we have the opportunity to support those who voluntarily embark on this path."

Criticism from the Right-wing SVP

Greenpeace also commented on the referendum result in a statement, "delighted": Switzerland has been seriously "on the way to phasing out fossil fuels today, providing planning and legal security."

Almost all political parties in Switzerland and also the Economic Association of Switzerland had campaigned for a "yes" vote for the climate protection law before the referendum. In contrast, the right-wing Swiss People's Party SVP, which had warned of high costs and initiated the referendum, could not prevail among Swiss citizens.

"You could also say that the propaganda of the proponents has taken hold," said Michael Graber, a Swiss People's Party parliamentarian and head of the "no" campaign after the referendum. "This atmosphere of doom and gloom that was practically being celebrated. That it was that people fell for."

Approval for Tax and Pandemic Law

At two other votes, too, Swiss citizens voted with a clear majority in favor of the government's laws. Just under 79 percent agreed that multinational corporations in Switzerland must now pay the OECD's agreed minimum tax of 15 percent. This is not currently the case in many cantons. It is good that the additional tax revenue generated will now actually stay in Switzerland, said Zurich FDP MP Beat Walti on SRF.

"Surely one can say that the Swiss electorate has accepted with this result that we want to play according to internationally applicable rules," said Walti.

And a majority of around 62 percent also had no objections against their government's pandemic rules. This was now the third time that Swiss citizens had given their approval to the Covid-19 law, which enables protective measures in the event of a resurgence of the pandemic.

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