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Swiss Citizens Vote in Favor of Ambitious Climate Measures to Protect Glaciers

2023

In a recent referendum, the majority of Swiss citizens voiced support for a bill targeting new climate measures to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. According to final results from public broadcaster SRF, 59.1% of voters favored the bill, with 40.9% against.

The drive for the referendum arose from a campaign by scientists and environmentalists concerned about the rapid melting of Switzerland's glaciers. Campaigners initially proposed more ambitious measures but later aligned with a government plan mandating "net zero" emissions by 2050. Over 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.357 billion) were earmarked to assist companies and homeowners in transitioning away from fossil fuels.

The nationalist Swiss People's Party, instigators of the referendum, argued the proposed measures would escalate electricity prices. Supporters contended that Switzerland, already witnessing the impact of rising temperatures on its glaciers, must address the looming threat of global warming.

Urs Bieri of the GFS Bern Institute acknowledged the victory for supporters but highlighted dissent over concerns about associated costs. Greenpeace Switzerland expressed satisfaction with the result, emphasizing the legal anchoring of the goal to achieve net zero emissions. Georg Klingler, a climate and energy expert at Greenpeace Switzerland, emphasized the citizens' commitment to limiting global warming and preserving vital natural resources.

The referendum result comes against the backdrop of Swiss glaciers experiencing record melting, losing over 6% of their volume last year. This significant loss alarmed scientists who assert that a 2% reduction would have once been deemed extreme.

Experts like Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the Swiss Institute for Technology in Zurich, are leveraging social media to spotlight these changes. Posting dramatic snapshots of retreating glaciers and rockslides caused by melting permafrost, they underscore the transformations unfolding in the Alps.

Amid these developments, Huss, in a recent Twitter post, urged collective action to forestall the worst consequences of climate change. The Swiss populace's endorsement of the climate bill reflects a broader recognition of the urgent need to address environmental challenges and underscores the nation's commitment to a sustainable future.

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