Environment and climate – stepping up cooperation on shared challenges

Frozen landscape at the water's edge
Frozen landscape at the water's edge © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

The EU and Switzerland both recognise the need and responsibility to protect the climate and environment in a sustainable manner. They hold similar positions when it comes to finding global solutions at international conferences on sustainable development or climate change.

Motivated by a shared desire to better protect the European continent’s natural resources, over the years the EU Member States have developed a large body of environmental legislation. European framework legislation has been adopted with regard to improving air and water quality, promoting waste recycling, reducing CO2 emissions from motor vehicles and restricting the hunting of migratory birds, to name only some main issues.

With the European Green Deal, unveiled at the end of 2019, the EU Commission presented the roadmap for a sustainable economy in the EU. Switzerland shares many of the sustainable development goals contained in the roadmap, in particular the undertaking of a leading role in the fight against climate change. In their respective sustainability, environmental, energy and climate policies, Switzerland and the EU have set themselves largely equivalent levels of ambition.

In November 2017, Switzerland and the EU signed an agreement on linking their CO2 emissions trading systems (ETS). The agreement entered into force at the beginning of 2020. 

European Environment Agency in Copenhagen

Although in most cases Switzerland has its own environmental protection standards, local industry closely monitors the development of product standards in the EU. Moreover, it is in Switzerland’s interests to exchange comparable data on the state of the environment with its neighbouring countries. This is what led Switzerland to sign an agreement with the EU in 2004 regulating its participation in the European Environment Agency. Based in Copenhagen, this institution collects and analyses data on the state of the environment in Europe.