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As Swiss glaciers melt at alarming rate, voters go to polls over ambitious plans to tackle climate change | Climate News

Swiss people will go to the polls on Sunday to vote on the bill – which would require the country to achieve “zero” emissions by 2050 – but critics say the pledge will lead to electricity price increase.

Sunday, June 18, 2023 11:32, UK

A referendum is being held in Switzerland to decide on a climate bill that would introduce new measures to save the country’s melting glaciers.

Switzerland Voters are heading to the polls after a campaign of scientists and environmentalists argued that the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions needed to be reduced.

Campaigners are backing a government plan to require Switzerland to achieve “zero” emissions by 2050, after initially proposing even more ambitious measures.

They argued that the country would be hit hard by global warming and has seen the effects of rising temperatures as glaciers melt at an alarming rate.

Icebergs floating in the lake in front of the Rhone Glacier. Photo: AP

The plan also sets aside more than 3 billion Swiss francs (£2.6 billion) to help companies and homeowners stop using fossil fuels.

However, the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which demanded a popular vote on the bill, claimed the proposed measures would cause electricity prices to rise.

Voting-based projections show that 88% of the referendum participants approved a plan to raise the country’s business tax to 15%, from 11% currently.

Meanwhile, 58% appear to have supported the proposed climate law, despite the fact that it was rejected in 2021 because it was too costly.

“Supporters have reason to rejoice,” Urs Bieri of the GFS Bern Institute, a research group, told Swiss broadcaster SRF.

“But that doesn’t mean everyone is in favor of the law. The cost debate has yielded many ‘no’ votes.”

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Glaciologist Matthias Huss examines the thickness of the Rhone Glacier. Photo: AP

Greenpeace Switzerland welcomes the first result of the referendum.

“This victory means that eventually the goal of achieving net zero emissions will be put into law,” said George Klingler, Greenpeace’s climate and energy expert.

“That gives greater security for advance planning and allows our country to follow a path toward a fossil fuel exit.”

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

This shocked scientists, who say a 2% drop was once considered extreme.

Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich, has posted dramatic photos of receding glaciers and rock slides on social media to highlight the changes taking place. in the Alps.

“We need to insist on communicating the urgency of climate action,” he wrote on Twitter in May.


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