DOSSIER: Switzerland Emissions Trading Scheme

Published 15:00 on January 2, 2016  /  Last updated at 13:57 on March 22, 2019  /  Dossiers  /  No Comments

This dossier gives an overview of the Swiss scheme including details on its use of international credits, associated carbon tax and offsetting and its process for linking with the EU ETS. It also features a summary of key elements by the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP).

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Summary (ICAP)

ICAPlogoSummary provided by the secretariat of the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP), a multilateral forum working on carbon markets. For more information, visit ICAP’s website.  Copyright © ICAP and reproduced with permission.


General information:

The Swiss ETS started in 2008 with a five-year voluntary phase as an alternative option to the CO2 levy on fossil fuels. From 2013 on, the scheme subsequently became mandatory for large, energy-intensive entities, while medium-sized entities may join voluntarily. In the 2013-2020 mandatory phase, participants in the ETS are exempt from the CO2 levy.
In January 2016, Switzerland and the EU concluded negotiations on linking their ETSs. Through the bilateral agreement, the two systems will mutually recognize each other’s emissions allowances. The linked Swiss ETS will now also cover aviation as a result of the negotiations. After the approval by the Swiss and EU Parliaments the link will become operational to following year.
Background information:

Compliance in the Swiss ETS system is mandatory for entities of covered sectors that are captured by the inclusion threshold since 2013.

There is an absolute cap of 5.14 MtCO2e (2018), which is to be reduced annually by a constant linear reduction factor (currently 1.74%), to 4.9 MtCO2e in 2020.

Total emissions and proportion covered:

48.14 MtCO2e (11%) (2015)


Liable entities:

56 (2016)

(defined at the installation level)


Sector Coverage:

Downstream: Industry

Gas coverage:

CO2, NO2, CH4, HFCs, NF3, SF6 and PFCs


Free allocation (80%) and auctioning (20%)


Offsets and credits



Phases and compliance periods:

Trading periods:
Voluntary phase: 2008-2012
Mandatory phase: 2013-2020

Compliance period: one calendar year as of 31 December 2013
Covered entities have time until April 30 of the following year to surrender allowances.

Temporal flexibility:

Banking is allowed (within a compliance period as well as from one compliance period to the next).


Switzerland concluded negotiations with the European Commission on linking the Swiss ETS to the EU ETS. Both the Swiss Federal Council and the Council of the European Union approved the signing of the linking agreement in 2017. The link will become operational on 1 January the year following ratification and completion of all requirements under the linking agreement.

For further information, visit the ICAP ETS Map.



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