Could Climate Change Cause the Swiss to Give up Neutrality?
As the world wonders what actually came out of Cancun, in other parts of the globe countries are not waiting for global mandates and taking matters into their own hands.
To date, the Swiss have been managing their carbon abatement efforts in isolation. Instead of joining the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS), they chose to instead go it alone and implemented what amounts to a voluntary alternative to a domestic fuel tax. Switzerland recently entered into discussions with the EU governments to figure out how to link the Swiss trading system with the EU ETS.
This move signals a significant shift in Switzerland’s traditionally independent and neutral approach to foreign affairs. Is Switzerland’s shift a bellwether of things to come? My sense is that the answer is yes.
After little resolve coming from Cancun, many regional carbon abatement schemes are and will begin increasing their efforts—Switzerland is but one example of this trend. With California’s cap and trade system set to come online in 2012 (let’s not forget that California represents the world’s 8th largest economy), members of the Western Climate Initiative could rally around this to bolster what will be the world’s second largest cap and trade system.
Ultimately, the world will need a global approach to solving climate change, but until then smaller, regional efforts will serve as test beds to determine what approach works best. Or, they could ultimately create such a disparate landscape that it will be impossible to integrate them. What do you think?