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FLIGHTS

Petrol, flight prices set to increase under Swiss environmental proposal

A proposal currently being debated in the Council of States would see potentially significant increases to flight, petrol prices and heating costs across Switzerland in a bid to combat CO2 emissions.

Petrol, flight prices set to increase under Swiss environmental proposal
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In a debate that ran late into Monday night and continued into Tuesday, the Swiss upper house proposed a tax of between 30 and 120 francs per flight, while diesel and petrol could increase by up to ten cents a litre.

The CO2 rules on new cars, vans and trucks are also likely to be tightened, while a ban on oil heating has been forecast in buildings.

The goal is to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which advocates argue will bring Switzerland in line with its requirements under the Paris Climate Accords. 

While the proposal has majority support in the upper house, there have been notable critics – with the majority of Swiss cantons not supporting the new measures. Under the bill however, cantons who put in environmentally sound measures that have at least an equal impact on emissions reduction would be exempt from implementation. 

The proposal comes after the lower house of Swiss parliament voted to support an increase in flight taxes earlier. As reported by The Local earlier in September, those in support of the taxes criticised the “extremely cheap tickets sometimes on offer”, saying that people were “flying like there’s no tomorrow”. 

Although a similar proposal was defeated in the national council in 2018, the current set of changes appears more likely to succeed due to a “change in the political wind”. Roberto Zanetti (SP/SO), said that the representatives were heavily influenced by the climate strike protests. 

While initially considering the climate strikes to have little impact, Zanetti told Swiss parliament “I was wrong. They have influenced our thinking – and our consciousness”. 

Part of the money raised from the new taxes is set to go towards a new “climate fund”, which will be used to promote renewable fuels and electronic mobility. 

One third of the tax on oil products will go towards the climate fund, as will half of the money raised under the air ticket tax. The Federal Commission indicates that the remainder will be redistributed to citizens and the Swiss economy. 

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: How can I dispose of electric appliances in Switzerland?

Whether it’s an old microwave or broken vacuum cleaner, sooner or later you will have to get rid your home of electric equipment. There are rules about how you can (and can’t) do this in Switzerland.

Reader question: How can I dispose of electric appliances in Switzerland?

There used to be a time when broken appliances were repaired and reused, but this is no longer done, at least not frequently. Most of the time it is cheaper to buy a replacement than to have old appliances fixed.

That is why we live in the so-called ‘disposable’ or ‘throw-away’ society — a real catastrophe for the environment.

You may be tempted to just toss away smaller items like hairdryers, or hand-held blenders and mixers, into the trash. But that is not the proper, or environmentally friendly, way of disposal.The reason is that electronics contain toxic chemicals that can, if not properly disposed of, leak and contaminate groundwater and soil.

In fact, this action is punishable by a fine (the amount of which is determined by each commune).

And if you think nobody will ever know, you are wrong.

True, chances that you will be found out are slim, but not totally non-existent: municipal workers have the right to go through trash bags to see what’s in them, and will look for clues therein to identify (and fine) garbage offenders.

So what do you do with all the electrical equipment that you no longer use?

This being Switzerland, where the so-called “recycling culture” is highly developed, each commune has various collection / drop off points for electronics.

Obviously, smaller items are easier to transport to a collection venue than large, bulky, and heavy ones. Unless you have a very big car and lots of muscle, you will not be able to carry refrigerators or washing machines yourself — nor are you expected to.

When you buy a new fridge or another large and heavy appliance, you will have it delivered. The old one will be taken away (probably for extra fee) to a recycling location.

Smaller electrical and electronic appliances are easier to dispose of because you can carry them yourself. There are two ways of doing this.

Items like microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and any other small appliance, can be brought to any store selling products of the same type. Shops have an obligation to take back all such appliances free of charge,  regardless of whether they had been purchased there or not.

Your other option is to take these items to your community’s collection point / recycling centre, which have special places just for electrical appliances.

All communes make such facilities available to their residents — not just for electrical items but for all kinds of trash big and small, including PET bottles, paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, batteries, as well as organic waste / compost. 

If you don’t know where your nearest collection point is, this map will help.

READ MORE: Trash talk: What are the rules for garbage disposal in Switzerland?

If you are not sure which devices are considered as electric, basically it is any equipment that has a plug: refrigerators; freezers; air conditioners, TVs and other entertainment equipment, gardening and fitness machines; computers; and telecommunications.

You will find that the collection points have special bins not just for appliances and electronics, but separate ones for electric wires and plugs as well.
 

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