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Swiss voters back ambitious plans to save melting glaciers

Voters in Switzerland have backed a new law aiming to slash fossil fuel use and reach zero emissions after a referendum.

The legislation, which sets a target to reach net zero by 2050, was backed by 59% of voters, according to public broadcaster SRF.

It went to a public vote after the nationalist Swiss People’s Party pushed back against the government’s proposals, saying such measures would cause energy bills to rise.

The referendum took place on Sunday after a campaign by scientists and environmental groups argued the country’s melting glaciers would soon vanish completely if greenhouse gas emissions were not reduced.


Swiss glaciers experienced record melting last year, losing more than 6% of their volume.

Last month, a glaciologist at the Swiss Institute for Technology in Zurich posted dramatic images of retreating glaciers and rockslides on social media to highlight the changes taking place in the Alps.

Voters also backed the introduction of a 15% global minimum tax rate on businesses, which Switzerland had already provisionally signed up to via the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2021.

Public support was required under the country’s system of direct democracy, where legislation is put to a vote.

The results showed 80% were supportive of the new tax rate, though Switzerland, which has had a tax rate of 11%, will still have one of the lowest corporate tax levels in the world.

Finance minister Karin Keller-Sutter said: “This ensures that Switzerland will not lose any tax revenue to foreign countries. It will on top also create legal certainty and a stable framework.”

Read more:
World has lost battle to stop glaciers melting and sea level rising
Hottest ever start to June as global temperatures spike
Climate change is causing more turbulence on flights, say scientists

Chunks of ice float in a lake in front of Rhone glacier. Pic: AP

Businesses themselves had also supported the tax rate increase.

Switzerland is home to the offices and headquarters of around 2,000 foreign companies, including Google, as well as 200 Swiss multinationals, such as Nestle.


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