Switzerland has a new CO2 Act without strict bans on oil heating

In 2021, the existing CO2 Act of 2011 was revised in Switzerland and heavily criticised as it contained rules that would have been equal to a ban on oil heating. Various planned measures would have significantly increased the cost of fossil fuels and heating oil, which was unpopular with the citizens. A referendum was held, and the law was rejected.

In March 2024, a revised version of the CO2 Act was passed in the Swiss parliament and will come into force in 2025. This time, a referendum and a national vote are not expected. During the drafting of the law, points were constantly weakened or deleted, as there was a fear that a referendum would otherwise be held again. The result is now a fairly harmless law that does not provide any new national rules in the heating sector. In the area of mobility, too, only minor adjustments have been made to the existing law.

One positive aspect is the support for renewable liquid fuels. In aviation, Switzerland is adopting the blending quotas for SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) from the EU, and eFuels can now also be counted towards the emission values for vehicle fleets. Unfortunately, renewable heating fuels are not included in this law. As there is now no national regulation for the whole of Switzerland, the energy directors of the cantons have published a new model regulation as a result, which is to serve as a template for the cantons' local energy laws. In the published draft, they recommend that the cantons write a ban on new gas and oil heating systems into law as soon as possible, but by 1 January 2030 at the latest.

Renewable fuels such as biodiesel, HVO, or biogas are not mentioned or accepted at all, as the energy directors do not want these fuels to be used for heating. In contrast to the energy directors' negative attitude towards renewable fuels, the Federal Office for the Environment is currently working intensively on setting up a register for certificates of origin for renewable fuels.

From 1 January 2025, this should enable biodiesel and HVO to be officially counted as renewable energy for heating. There are already some cantons with bans on new oil heating installations in their energy laws, but other cantons can still be convinced that renewable fuels and hybrid systems need to be integrated into their energy laws. It is now important for the heating sector to show that renewable fuels are a working solution that should not be forgotten in the future energy mix.