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Swiss Environmental Law

The Swiss environmental law builds on a series of fundamental principles that influence the overall nature of acts and ordinances independently of the specific provisions they contain. They also play a role in the practical implementation of those provisions:

  • The precautionary principle
  • The cooperation principle
  • The sustainability principle
  • The holistic approach
  • The polluter pays principle

Cooperation with the private sector

Swiss environmental law provides for measures to be determined in agreements with individual sectors of industry, thereby taking their particular circumstances into account. Here, the sectors undertake to implement improvement measures to a defined extent according to a defined schedule. In return, they are not subject to other requirements. Agreements of this kind have been concluded for instance with operators of cement works, to reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxides.

The CO2 Act also provides for company-level solutions. Some companies can earn exemption from the CO2 levy by undertaking to limit their carbon emissions.

The Environmental Protection Act (EPA)

The EPA is the cornerstone of Swiss environmental law. It contains fundamental legal principles and general provisions that apply to all areas of environmental protection. It also governs several central themes in this field of law. Stand-alone legislation has been enacted alongside the EPA for other key environment-related areas.