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Both Switzerland and the EU introduced emissions trading systems (ETSs) in order to meet their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. These systems contribute to achieving climate goals by requiring certain companies to surrender an emission allowance for each tonne of CO2 they emit. Companies can buy and sell emission allowances to each other within their system. This means that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced at the most cost-effective manner.
In recognising each other's emission allowances, Switzerland and the EU's ETSs would be linked and allowances traded at the same price. This would give Swiss companies access to emission allowances from the EU.
At the second round of talks on 20 September 2011 in Zurich, the negotiators acknowledged the progress which has been made on a technical level since talks began. In particular, this has enabled delegations to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of each individual system. In Switzerland, the ETS will from 2013 be based on the completely revised CO2 Act, which is an indirect counter-proposal to the popular initiative «For a healthier climate». Deliberations in Parliament are currently at the resolution of differences stage.
The delegations have reiterated that the agreement will cover both CO2 emissions from stationary installations and emissions caused by international air traffic. The key role of the emissions registries in the operation of the linked emissions trading systems has also been stressed. Accounts held by individual businesses will be managed in the emissions registry just like bank accounts, thus creating a basis for trading in emissions allowances.
The delegation have also reached agreement on a schedule for the next round of talks.The EU delegation is led by Jos Delbeke, Director-General of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Climate Action. Head of the Swiss delegation is Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment. The first formal round of negotiations was held in Brussels on 8 March 2011.