July 25, 2021

Swiss push back climate law by referendum

Okay to be green, but on condition that it costs nothing. This is the message that the citizens of the Swiss Confederation sent to their leaders on Sunday June 13, pushing back by a small margin a new “CO law.2 », Which would have given the country the means to respect the objectives of the Paris Agreement, initialed by Berne. The result is a surprise in a country that considers itself a good student on the climate front. And which, moreover, is on the front line of warming.

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In the Alps, above 1,500 meters, the rise in temperatures is comparable to that of the Arctic zone, with projections of + 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But the accelerated melting of the glaciers of Europe’s water tower did not weigh heavily in the ballot box in the face of fears for family budgets.

Throughout the campaign, opponents scrapped against “Punitive ecology”, with catchy slogans: more expensive gasoline, impoverished middle class, bludgeoned industry. These warnings eventually convinced the electorate to renounce this law, yet already accepted by a large majority in Parliament, and while the polls still gave it a 60% winner two months ago.

A “ruined” climate policy

On the side of the Greens, authors of repeated electoral successes since 2018 and who see the population increasingly adhering to their concerns, the disappointment is palpable. After stressing that the Swiss were the first to speak in the voting booth on the application of the Paris agreement, the Green MEP of Geneva Lisa Mazzone underlines that “The result is still tight. I observe that, in the cities, the law obtains a plebiscite. It is the city-countryside divide, often observed in this country, which tipped the ballot, with in particular a strong mobilization in the conservative countryside ”.

Concretely, the refused law would have introduced a series of financial incentives, investments and innovation programs

The turnout, which has reached 60%, is indeed very high – with the Swiss voting every three months on their traditional initiatives or referendums, it is not uncommon for the turnout not to exceed 35%. . But this time, two ecological initiatives to ban synthetic pesticides and the use of antibiotics in livestock farms were also on the program of the day of the votes and they largely mobilized against them the rural or peri-urban electorate, which may also have played a role in the torpedoing of the CO law2.

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