MONET 2030: Greenhouse gas emissions

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Swiss target 13.2: Greenhouse gases are down by at least 50 per cent compared with 1990. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero by 2050 at the latest.

Significance of the indicator
This indicator shows the quantity of greenhouse gas emitted each year. The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring phenomenon but its balance is upset by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, especially from the combustion of fuels and fossil fuels, industrial processes and agricultural production. As the natural balance of atmospheric processes must be maintained, sustainable development requires a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Help for interpretation
The indicator does not include emissions from international air traffic. The decrease in 2020 is explained in particular by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

International comparability: The indicator is an international standard. It is on the list of Eurostat, EEA (European Environment Agency) and OECD indicators.



This indicator shows trends in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 in million tonnes CO2 equivalents. The values refer to gross emissions without carbon sink deductions.

The greenhouse gases defined in the Kyoto Protocol are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and synthetic gases (HFC; PFC and SF6). To calculate total greenhouse gas emissions in million tonnes CO2 equivalents, the global warming potential (GWP) of each greenhouse gas is evaluated and converted in to CO2-equivalents. The GWP of gases is calculated based on their physical properties and their persistence in the atmosphere: CO2 is used as the reference and by definition has a GWP of 1. 1kg of CH4 corresponds to 25kg of CO2 and 1kg of N2O to 298kg of CO2 (conversion values valid for a period of 100 years according to the IPCC, 2005).

Data included in the greenhouse gas emissions calculation are taken from Switzerland’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory. This inventory is compiled by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), in line with guidelines from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for industrialised countries and from the technical handbooks from the intergovernmental panel of experts on climate change (IPCC). These instructions are binding for all member States of the Framework Convention. The greenhouse gas emissions are published every year by the FOEN.

The Kyoto Protocol and the CO2 Act provide for the inclusion of certain carbon sink services from agriculture and forestry. The forest, for example, is a carbon sink as it absorbs more CO2 (carbon dioxide) than it releases. The greater the quantity of CO2 in long-term storage in biomass, the lower the atmospheric burden. Conversely, if the forest releases more CO2 than it absorbs, it becomes a carbon source, with negative consequences for the atmosphere.

The Kyoto Protocol and the CO2 Act do not take into account variations in emissions due to weather conditions and for this reason the objectives defined in the Kyoto Protocol are formulated as an average value over several years.  With regard to emissions from international air traffic, they appear in the greenhouse gas inventory, in line with decisions made within the Framework Convention on Climate Change, but not in the national total of emissions.

By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol Switzerland committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 2008 to 2012 (first period of commitment) compared with 1990 levels. According to the CO2 Act that entered into force in 2013, greenhouse gases emitted in Switzerland must be reduced by 20% below the level of 1990 by 2020. The greenhouse gas inventory of forests (including timber production) is taken into account but not carbon credits purchased abroad. In the CO2 Ordinance, the Federal Council has set out intermediate objectives for the different sectors to ensure the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020


Swiss target 13.2: Greenhouse gases are down by at least 50 per cent compared with 1990. Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero by 2050 at the latest.

International target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning


Federal Statistical Office Section Environment, Sustainable Development, Territory
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