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The right carbon tax to reduce the impact of transport in Switzerland

The Swiss transport sector has become the country’s leading CO2 emitter, accounting for 41% of total emissions. Most of these emissions (98%) come from road traffic, with individual vehicle owners responsible for two thirds of them. Researchers from the Laboratory of Environmental and Urban Economics (LEURE) looked into this matter at the request of the ‘Swiss Energy Modelling Platform’. Using macroeconomic simulation tools, they compared several carbon-tax scenarios between now and 2050. They found that a uniform tax on heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel would be a cost-effective way to reduce CO2 emissions from 4.5 tons per inhabitant today to 1.5 tons. The proportion of total emissions generated by transport would fall from 41% to 33%. “For such a tax to work, it must encourage people to use a clean alternative in order to avoid the levy. The resulting tax revenue could facilitate this, such as by subsidizing a network of electric charging points, electric car purchases and the public transport system”, explains Philippe Thalmann, co-author of the study published in the Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.