World Climate Change Conference: Federal Council sets out Switzerland’s position

Berne, Press release, 16.11.2011

The 17th UN Climate Change Conference will be held from 28 November to 9 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Discussions will focus on how to create a regime in which all major polluters make a legally binding commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Financing issues will also be under discussion.

On 16 November the Federal Council set out the mandate for the Swiss delegation in Durban. It continues to seek a comprehensive climate agreement to come into effect from 2020. The conference in Durban is another stage in this process and will build on the decisions reached at the conference in Cancún last year. The Federal Council has once again underlined Switzerland's commitment to climate protection measures, to implementing the national CO2 Act and achieving climate goals.

Following the climate conferences in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancún in 2010, in Durban the international community will be making a renewed effort to agree on the measures necessary to minimise a rise in the global temperature to two degrees Celsius. Discussions at the 17th UN Climate Change Conference will focus on how to create a regime in which all major polluters make a legally binding commitment to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This is essentially a discussion about the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which commits the majority of industrialised nations (excluding the USA) to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period began in 2008 and comes to an end in 2012.

Involving all major polluters

The Kyoto Protocol, drawn up in 1997, was a milestone in climate protection, as it put the onus on the industrialised nations. Until that time, the latter had been responsible for producing more than fifty per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol the industrialised nations also acknowledged their historical responsibility. The situation has now changed significantly: countries enjoying rapid economic development such as China, India and Brazil are now increasingly contributing to total greenhouse gas emissions. Many countries are no longer prepared to continue with their Kyoto commitments in their present form so long as the emerging economies do not make a commitment to reducing their emissions. The same is expected of the USA, which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and is pursuing its own climate protection agenda.

Switzerland's active role in the Green Climate Fund

The Durban conference will also focus on the financial mechanisms for helping to implement climate protection measures in developing countries. The Green Climate Fund, established in Cancún last year, will be discussed in greater detail. Switzerland was represented by Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, on the transitional committee which drew up the concrete proposals for this fund; these are now to be discussed in Durban. Switzerland will be making a bid for the Green Climate Fund to be based in Geneva.

Switzerland will also argue for the reduction commitments voluntarily formulated by many countries over recent years to be finalised and for the creation of an effective system under which the implementation of these commitments can be monitored.

Doris Leuthard to represent the Federal Council in Durban

Switzerland will be represented at the ministerial meeting from 8 to 10 December by Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and by FOEN director Bruno Oberle. The negotiation delegation will be led by Ambassador Franz Perrez, Head of the International Affairs Division of the FOEN. The Swiss delegation of about twenty members is made up of representatives from the Federal Departments of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC, Foreign Affairs FDFA, Home Affairs FDHA and Economic Affairs FDEA. The delegation also includes representatives from the worlds of business and science, development organisations and environment associations.

Contact with the Swiss delegation:

28 November to 10 December 2011: Franz Perrez, Ambassador, Head of the FOEN negotiation delegation, +41 79 251 90 15,

4 to10 December 2011: Adrian Aeschlimann, FOEN media officer, Tel.+41 79 277 51 83

During the ministerial meeting (8 to 10 December 2011): Bruno Oberle, FOEN director, Tel.+41 79 277 51 83 (in Durban from 5 to 10 December 2011)

Further information:

Focus of the FOEN: 17th UN Climate Change Conference in Durban

Address for enquiries:

Adrian Aeschlimann, FOEN media officer, Tel.+41 79 277 51 83


The Federal Council
Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs