The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow

This year is an important one for international climate policy. After a two-year break due to COVID, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October to 13 November. The aim of the conference was to adopt robust rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.

According to the United Nations, global warming will reach approximately three degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless effective action is taken at international level. This figure exceeds the mitigation target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a legally binding treaty ratified by 189 countries and the EU which commits parties to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The aim is to keep the average global temperature increase well below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

Conclusion of COP26


COP26: Agreement on rules for counting emissions reductions achieved abroad

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) came to a close in Glasgow on 13 November. Key issues included the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees, robust rules for counting and reporting international transfers of emissions reductions, and dealing with loss and damage caused by climate change. Countries agreed on rules that exclude the double counting of emissions reductions achieved abroad, thereby resolving the outstanding technical issues of the Paris Agreement. Switzerland campaigned strongly at COP26 to prevent such double counting, having previously committed to strict emissions trading rules in several bilateral agreements.

Environment Ambassador Perrez and Federal Councillor Sommaruga
Environment Ambassador Perrez and Federal Councillor Sommaruga

Switzerland a pioneer in climate protection agreements

Through its climate protection agreements, Switzerland aims to set an international standard in respect of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. To date, it has signed climate protection agreements with six countries: Peru, Ghana, Senegal, Georgia, Vanuatu, Dominica, and further agreements are under way. At a press conference in Glasgow on 11 November, Ms Sommaruga and various ministers of the environment and high-ranking representatives from partner countries explained the mutual benefits of these agreements and outlined their respective countries' engagement. Swiss retail giant Coop presented the benefits of such agreements for the private sector.

Switzerland and Vanuatu sign climate protection agreement

On 11 November, Switzerland and Vanuatu signed an agreement creating the conditions for Switzerland to reduce CO2 emissions through projects in Vanuatu. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga signed the agreement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, while Vanuatu's Minister of Climate Change Bruno Lenkon Tao attended virtually. One of the key aspects of the climate protection agreement is that it ensures emissions reductions are not counted in both countries.

Bundesrätin Sommaruga, Bruno Lengkone Tao (Vanuatu)

Federal Councillor Sommaruga at COP26

Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga travelled to the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on 9 November 2021. She will participate with the environment ministers of the other countries in negotiations at ministerial level and in the conference decision-making process. In addition, at the invitation of COP President Alok Sharma, she and Rwanda's Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya are co-chairing consultations on the issue of states' climate targets.

Video series on the Climate Change Conference

In the run-up to the COP26, Environment Ambassador Perrez talks about Switzerland's goals at the Climate Change Conference in four videos.

Virtual meeting with the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions IEA

In 2021, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga was elected to the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions, an IEA commission. The Commission has drafted a set of recommendations placing people at the heart of the energy transition.

Climate Change Pre-COP in Milan

Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and Rwanda's Minister for the Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya
Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and Rwanda's Minister for the Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya

From 30 September to 2 October Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga attended the preparatory meeting in Milan for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Among other issues, Switzerland campaigned there to prevent double counting of the greenhouse gas emissions that countries reduce through climate protection projects abroad. Switzerland's climate agreements with Peru, Ghana and Senegal demonstrate that positive solutions can be found in the interests of both Switzerland and the country in question. Thanks to these climate agreements, Switzerland and Swiss companies can make a greater contribution to global climate protection than would be possible through domestic measures alone. Another pending issue ahead of November's major climate conference in Glasgow is the timeframe in which each country intends to formulate its climate targets. COP26 President Alok Sharma tasked Federal Councillor Sommaruga and Rwandan Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya with seeking solutions in this regard. The two ministers are currently examining how countries' climate targets could be better coordinated in terms of time. To this end, they held a series of consultations in Milan with the main countries concerned.

Video conference on the coordination of climate goals


Climate protection: Federal Councillor Sommaruga chairs talks on international climate goals

On 7 September, around forty environment ministers held a video conference to discuss the issue of whether countries could in future better coordinate timeframes for their climate goals. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga led these international talks together with Rwandan Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya. Alok Sharma, the president of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, has tasked the two environment ministers with seeking a solution before COP26. The proposals are to be presented at the end of September at the Pre-COP in Milan, which serves to prepare for COP26.

Talk with Rwandan Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya

Talk with John Kerry

On 5 August 2021, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga held talks with John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The virtual meeting focused on global climate protection. Both countries believe that international efforts are vital to counter the advance of global warming.

Ministerial Climate Meeting in London

Federal Councillor Sommaruga attended the Ministerial Climate Meeting in London on 25 July 2021. At the meeting, she held bilateral talks with Alok Sharma, the President of COP26, and the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn.

In the run-up to COP26, Federal Councillor Sommaruga will work with the Minister of Environment of Rwanda, Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, to ensure that all countries formulate their climate target for the same year. Alok Sharma has asked the two ministers to work on this in an official capacity.

12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue