Swiss voters reject proposals to reduce nation’s carbon emissions

Climate change plans in disarray after measures fail to win support

Switzerland's climate change policy has been thrown into doubt after voters rejected new targets for emissions reductions in a referendum.

The measures, including a car fuel levy and airfare tax, were regarded as key to helping the country meet its goal for cutting emissions under the Paris Agreement.

Slightly more than 51 per cent of voters opposed the legislation.

Critics argued that the new measures would increase business costs and not help the environment because Switzerland is responsible for only 0.1 per cent of global carbon emissions.

The result was a blow for the Swiss government, which by 2030 is aiming to reduce the country’s emissions to half of 1990’s levels.

Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said it would be “very difficult” to meet the goal and become carbon-neutral by 2050.

Swiss voters rejected two other environmental proposals concerning the use of pesticides in agriculture, although those results were widely expected.

Separate referendums on a new anti-terrorism law and providing financial support for businesses during the global health crisis were approved on Sunday.

Switzerland's system of direct democracy means all major decisions in the country are taken at the ballot box.

Campaigners must gather 100,000 signatures to ensure a nationwide vote.