Cyclone “Freddy” broke several world records in March this year. The tropical storm, which claimed more than 1,000 lives in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar and left a trail of destruction in its wake, was the longest tropical storm ever recorded, lasting more than a month. And it accumulated more energy than any other cyclone before it.
Cyclone “Freddy” confirms: Climate disasters in the Global South are causing ever greater damage and loss. “Vulnerability to negative impacts of the climate crisis is significantly higher in low-income countries, for example when there is a lack of money for adaptation to climate change,” explains Andreas Missbach , Executive Director of Alliance Sud, the Center of Excellence for International Cooperation and Development Policy. “The latest world climate report shows that 15 times more people die in an extreme weather event in a vulnerable area than in a comparable event in a well-adapted area like Switzerland.”
Switzerland has a responsibility to contribute adequately to mitigating global warming. The comparison of the consumption-related annual greenhouse gas emissions per capita between Switzerland (14 tCO2) and the most affected countries such as Malawi (0.1 tCO2), Mozambique (0.3 tCO2) or Madagascar (0.1 tCO2) clearly shows the discrepancy.
To protect Switzerland and the Global South
The Climate Protection Act enshrines targets to reduce Swiss emissions to net zero by 2050. “This is the least Switzerland must achieve,” stresses Bernard DuPasquier, Vice Director of Heks: “A truly equitable contribution to climate protection would mean Switzerland moving even faster.” Franziska Lauper, Executive Director of terre des hommes schweiz, adds: “We need to act now so that future generations – both here in Switzerland and in the Global South – don’t have to suffer even more from the consequences.”
To this end, the halving of emissions by 2030 envisaged in the law is central. That’s because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued an urgent warning that stronger climate action must take effect before the end of this decade to prevent the 1.5-degree limit from being exceeded. “The threshold at 1.5 degrees of global warming is not arbitrarily chosen, it is scientifically based and anchored in the Paris Climate Agreement,” reminds Melchior Lengsfeld, Executive Director of Helvetas, adding, “The impact of any further increase will be devastating – especially for people in the Global South.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report also highlights existing opportunities to achieve climate neutrality. “Rapid decarbonization is needed, also in Switzerland. This has long been technically feasible. We need to end the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible,” says Bernd Nilles, Executive Director of Fastenaktion. Peter Lack, Director of Caritas Switzerland, adds: “The law stipulates that climate protection must be designed in a socially acceptable way. This is important because it means that it can also be supported by people with low incomes and thus be broadly based.”
For more food and energy security
Climate protection is central to food security in particular. “The World Climate Report shows that agricultural productivity is declining overall as the climate warms. The production of sufficient healthy and diverse food is becoming more difficult with increasing drought and unpredictable weather – on the one hand for us, but above all for smallholder families in poor countries,” Markus Allemann, Executive Director of SWISSAID , emphasizes. “However, nutrition is also part of the solution if we eat a more climate-friendly, ecological diet.”
A Yes vote on the Climate Protection Act is not only important for security of supply and preserving our own livelihoods, it is also an opportunity to signal to the global community that the Swiss people take the climate crisis seriously. “With the current multiple crises and increasingly severe climate disasters in the Global South, it is important that we also send a signal of solidarity by voting Yes to climate protection,” sums up Felix Gnehm, Executive Director of Solidar Suisse. “We want a just transition to a climate-friendly world – climate protection in Switzerland is part of that.”