CO2 tax Ordinance on Vehicles: legal basis for the CO2 tax

The CO2 Ordinance of 20 November 2012 regulates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland. The legal basis for the CO2 Ordinance is the Swiss CO2 Act of 23 December 2011.

The CO2 Regulation is based on the provisions of the European Union on the reduction of CO2 emissions (initially EU Regulation 443/2009 of 23 April 2009, revised and repealed by EU Regulation 2019/631 of 17 April 2019).

The objective of the CO2 Regulation: Reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions

The CO2 Regulation not only aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, but also to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.

In order to be able to compare the warming effect of the various greenhouse gases, the various greenhouse gases are converted into so-called CO2 equivalents (CO2eq). The published emission data, CO2 targets and CO2 target achievement each refer to the sum of the warming effects of all greenhouse gases expressed in CO2eq.

The CO2 Regulation takes the following greenhouse gases into account:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2 equivalent, CO2eq: 1.0)
  • Methan (25)
  • Dinitrogen monoxide (298)
  • Fluorocarbons (between 12 and 14,800)
  • perfluorinated hydrocarbons (between 7,390 and 12,200)
  • sulfur hexafluoride (22,800)
  • Nitrogen trifluoride (17,200)
    Nitrogen trifluoride (17,200)

 
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Who is affected by the CO2 regulation?

The CO2 regulation for vehicles concerns

  • Importers and Swiss manufacturers
  • Importeure und Schweizer Hersteller
  • which will be put into circulation for the first time.
    die erstmals in Verkehr gesetzt werden.
  • The first placing on the market is considered to be the first authorisation in Switzerland, in a customs exclusion area (Article 3(3) of the Customs Act) or in Liechtenstein.
  • Vehicles “which were registered abroad more than six months prior to the customs declaration in Switzerland” are expressly excluded from the regulations of the CO2 Ordinance.

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CO2 tax on automobiles as a sanction for exceeding CO2 targets

Manufacturers and importers must pay a CO2 tax if the vehicles manufactured or imported in Switzerland exceed certain CO2 target values. Hersteller und Importeure müssen eine CO2-Steuer zahlen, wenn die in der Schweiz hergestellten oder importierten Fahrzeuge bestimmte CO2-Zielwerte überschreiten.

  • for passenger cars 130 g/km (until 2019) or 95 g/km (from 2020) and
  • 147 g/km for light commercial vehicles (from 2020).

The development of the total amount of the CO2 tax for 2019 compared to 2018 is likely to be determined not only by the achievement of the CO2 target but also by the further development of the automobile economy.

The development of the total amount of the CO2 tax for 2019 compared to 2018 is likely to be determined not only by the achievement of the CO2 target, but also by the further development of the automotive industry.

A distinction must be made between the CO2 tax on cars and the CO2 tax on fossil fuels, which has been levied since 2014 in the event of non-compliance with certain legally prescribed CO2 emission reductions (compared with 1990). For each tonne of CO2 emitted, the 2015 CO2 levy was CHF 60, the 2016 CO2 levy CHF 72 and the 2017 CO2 levy CHF 84, depending on the target deviation. For each tonne of CO2 emitted, the 2015 CO2 levy was CHF 60, the 2016 CO2 levy CHF 72 and the 2017 CO2 levy CHF 84, depending on the target deviation.

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CO2-Regelfahrzeuge: Definitionen und Ziele

The CO2 Regulation defines

  • CO2 emission targets for those vehicles subject to the CO2 regulations: passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (delivery vans and light semi-trailers) that are being put into circulation for the first time in Switzerland,
  • the status of small and large importers depending on the size of an import fleet (large importers import at least 50 passenger cars or six light commercial vehicles each calendar year),
    as well as
  • the concept of small and niche manufacturers (vehicle production in the EU of less than 10,000 and between 10,000 and 300,000 cars respectively).

The CO2 Ordinance makes it possible to

  • the formation of emission pools by importers or manufacturers (for one to five years at a time), so that they receive the rights of large importers (no accounting of individual vehicles, but one-off annual accounting of the CO2 tax for the average emissions of an import fleet),
  • Special CO2 targets for small and niche manufacturers, and
  • the crediting of emission reductions abroad that are certified by emission reduction certificates (Article 4 of the CO2 Ordinance). An application must be submitted to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) for recognition of a foreign project to reduce emissions (Article 4a of the CO2 Ordinance).

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Der Weg zum CO2-Gesetz Schweiz und zur CO2-Verordnung

  • 1992: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in New York.
  • 1997: Kyoto Protocol on climate protection.
  • 2000: CO2 Law Switzerland. Establishment of binding targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions.
  • 2008: Swiss CO2 tax on heating oil and natural gas.
  • 2012: Commitment to reduce Swiss greenhouse gas emissions (20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990).
  • 2012: Switzerland introduces CO2 emission targets of 130 g/km for passenger cars.
  • 2012: Switzerland: CO2 Ordinance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 2015: Paris Convention (follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol): Switzerland commits itself to halving CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared with 1990).
  • Development of the annual total amount of CO2 tax on automobiles:
    • CO2 tax 2015: 12.6 million CHF
    • CO2 tax 2016: 2.4 million CHF
    • CO2 tax 2017: 2.9 million CHF
    • CO2 tax 2018: CHF 31.1 million

(The development of the total amount of the CO2 tax in 2019 compared to 2018 is likely to be determined not only by the achievement of the CO2 target but also by the further development of the automobile economy.)

  • From 2018: Legislative process for a revised CO2 law in Switzerland. Objective: To adapt to the 2030 climate objectives of the Paris Convention.
  • CO2 target values as of 2020:
    • Passenger cars: 95 g/km
    • light commercial vehicles: 147 g/km

Light commercial vehicles will also be included in the 2020 CO2 tax for the first time.

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