Switzerland is home to 8.7 million people, mainly living in the cantons of Zurich, Bern and Vaud. This population has grown exponentially, more than doubling since 1900. Switzerland is a country with few energy resources, except for renewable energies, which in recent years have enabled it to export electricity during the summer months. By 2021, however, Switzerland will still be 70% dependent on foreign countries for its energy supplies.

New government measures

The Swiss government is therefore making renewable resources a priority in order to reduce the country’s energy dependence. With this in mind, in November 2022, the Swiss parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Federal Act on Climate Protection, Innovation and Enhanced Energy Security. On the eve of the federal vote on June 18, Parliament is thus inviting people to vote in favor of the “climate protection” initiative, a proposal that was rejected in June 2021. In this sense, the State Council is also supporting the federal vote on the Climate and Innovation Act.

This initiative follows on from the first climate plan launched in June 2020, with the aim of halving greenhouse gases by 2030. Almost 173 million Swiss francs were invested in this initiative during the previous legislature, and a further 200 million Swiss francs are planned. Among other things, the climate plan requires public-sector pension funds to adopt responsible investment strategies, such as renouncing investments in fossil fuels.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) also appears to be moving towards a monetary policy that addresses climate and environmental risks. The SNB’s plan is to adopt a policy of investing in the ecological transition, and in particular to stop investing in companies with high CO2 emissions.

Waste management

When it comes to waste management, Switzerland is exemplary in terms of recycling (94% of glass is recycled), thanks to its management of waste collection, sorting and recovery channels. However, Switzerland is one of the countries with the highest volume of waste per inhabitant in the world (715 kg in 2016, compared with 309 kg in 1970).

Consequently, efforts in waste management are still needed to move towards a more sustainable approach. In the Vaud region, the introduction 10 years ago of the 2-franc taxed bag has been a success, as underlined by the fact that tons of household waste have more than halved (40,000 tons in 2012 versus 18,000 in 2021). Since then, all cantons except Geneva have introduced the system.

2023 also saw the introduction of a national plastic collection and recycling system, spearheaded by the Swiss Recycling organization and supported by numerous Swiss retailers (Migros, Coop, Aldi, etc.) and food and packaging manufacturers.

In this way, the Swiss recycling system offsets the energy needs of 790,000 people – more than four times the population of Geneva.

Managing water resources

Switzerland’s main source of renewable energy is hydropower, which produces 58% of the country’s electricity. The management of water resources is therefore of great importance to Switzerland, and presents a challenge that will become even greater with changes in land use and climate change. Recent years of drought have shown that even Switzerland, nicknamed the “water tower of Eastern Europe”, can experience water shortages.

Water quality also needs to be monitored, and Franco-Swiss partnerships on the Doubs river can help maintain or restore good quality.

Franco-Swiss programs should be able to help accelerate this ecological transition. The Interreg France-Switzerland 2021-2027 program covers 5 French departments and 7 Swiss cantons. The budget for this program period is €69.7 million from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and CHF 50 million from Swiss contributions. In particular, the program supports projects geared towards carbon neutrality, ecological transition, research, innovation and sustainable mobility and tourism.

Business France Suisse will be present at Pollutec 2023, and will be able to put you in touch with the Swiss pavilion to help you discover the opportunities of this market, and to enter into collaboration with its players.

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