The University of St.Gallen has signed the «Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges» and has committed to reducing its emissions to net zero by 2030. In addition to the HSG, more than 1000 universities worldwide are participating in this “Race to Zero” campaign by UNFCCC. The action plan of HSG to become carbon neutral by 2030 includes the following areas:
HSG-wide carbon footprint measurements, incl. procurement and the supply chain.
There are many things you can do in your everyday life to contribute to our climate. Especially in the areas of mobility, nutrition and energy, you have the opportunity to significantly reduce your CO2 emissions. For example, it makes a big difference whether you travel on vacation by plane or by train, or if you try plant-based alternatives instead of a steak. It’s also worth taking a look at your electricity mix, as many providers offer the option to switch to renewable energy. Alternatively, you can join the St.Gallen Solar Community and get locally produced solar power – you don’t even need your own roof! (Solar Community).There are many other ways you can actively contribute to the climate. The following links provide additional tips on how to make your everyday life more climate-friendly:
The year 2022 was the warmest and sunniest year in Switzerland since records began in 1864.
Especially on the southern side of the Alps, there was a severe drought with below-average precipitation. As a result, forest fires raged in the cantons of Bern, Ticino and Valais. Due to the largest forest fire in Ticino, both the railway line and the road had to be temporarily closed, and up to eight firefighting helicopters were deployed.
The seven warmest years since records began have all been recorded after the year 2010 and they are all 1 °C or more above the heat records before 1980.
On June 13, 2021, Switzerland voted on the revised CO2 Act and rejected it with a majority of 51.6%. It was a missed opportunity for climate protection. The measures of the law would have led, among other things, to a higher taxation of fossil fuels, an air ticket levy, CO2-neutral house construction from 2023 and a new climate fund. This would have provided annual funding of around one billion Swiss francs for climate protection measures and climate-friendly technologies.
In the city of St.Gallen, the final result of the vote on the CO2 Act was 62.61% in favor.
Source: UVEK (2021), swissinfo (2021), Kanton SG (2021)
COP26 – For the first time, fossil fuels are explicitly mentioned
At the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in 2021, important contributions were made to accelerate the achievement of climate goals. What makes COP26 special is that, for the first time, terms like «coal» and «fossil fuels» were explicitly mentioned in the climate pact, as can be seen in the following excerpt.
(…) «Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power andinefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition;» (…) (UNFCCC, 2021, pp. 4-5)
The first World Climate Conference took place in Geneva on February 12, 1979. At that time, international scientists and experts were already warning about a massive increase in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Even then, we were made aware that human activities have long-term consequences for the climate.
Anthropogenic climate change has been a controversial topic in recent years. However, research shows a clear majority of scientific studies that prove climate change is man-made. The results of a scientific article show that 97% of all climate scientists agree that climate change is man-made.
Source: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (2022), UNFCCC (2021), Umwelt Bundesamt. (o. D.), Cook et al. (2016)
2021: Voting CO2 law in SwitzerlandHasCom2023-06-05T11:03:23+02:00
On September 27, 2020, the people of St.Gallen decided to anchor the article on climate protection and climate change in the municipal code. This is because the substantial rise in temperatures also has notable implications for life in the city of St.Gallen.
Due to the lack of green spaces and too many sealed surfaces, the city heats up more than the surrounding area, especially in summer. The figure shows the temperature difference between the surrounding area, residential area, city center and agglomeration during hot spells.
Another consequence of rising temperatures are more frequent tropical nights and heat days in summer. These are a particular problem for older people and small children, as they put a strain on the cardiovascular system.
In this regard, the city of St.Gallen has defined five areas of action to mitigate heat stress, such as greening buildings. Learn more about it through the following link:
In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, committing participating countries to reduce their CO2 emissions by 50% from 1990 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The main goal of the agreement is to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial times. However, it should be noted that the achievement of this target is only politically binding.
Switzerland has also signed the Paris Climate Agreement. Subsequently, the Federal Council adopted the «Long-Term Climate Strategy of Switzerland» on January 27, 2021 to achieve the defined targets. In order to reach the climate goals, emissions must be halved by 2030.
Source: BAFU (o.D. b), BAFU (o.D. c)
2015: Paris Climate AgreementHasCom2023-06-05T10:59:21+02:00
Over the last ten years, a significant cost reduction has been observed in solar and wind energy. When considering the costs of energy from new power plants, onshore wind and solar are currently the cheapest sources. They cost less than energy generated from gas, geothermal, coal or nuclear power. Providing cost-effective and low-carbon alternatives for energy is a key driver of the energy transition and thus also paves the way for achieving climate targets.
Source: Chrobak (2021)
2011: Solar panels for the first time cheaper than non-renewable energiesHasCom2023-06-05T10:57:12+02:00
The city of St.Gallen developed its first energy concept in the heat sector in 2006, with the aim of specifically reducing its CO2 emissions and increasing energy efficiency.
In 2011, the Energy Concept 2050 was adopted as a comprehensive basis for future energy policy, covering electricity, heat and mobility. (Reduction target by 2050: 1 ton of CO2 and 2000 watts per person per year).
Subsequentily, in 2020, the energy concept was adjusted to the ”Zero Tons of CO2 Emissions” goal and climate neutrality by 2050 was anchored in the municipal regulations.
Between 2006 and 2021, energy consumption per capita has been reduced by 12%. During the same period, greenhouse gas emission have decreased by 26%.
In 2023, the energy concept will be expanded to include consumption and resources. This will take into account not only domestically generated energy-related CO2 emissions but also imported CO2 emissions resulting from our consumption of goods, food, and air travel.
Source: BAFU (o.D. a)
2006: Energy concept 2050 of the city of St.GallenHasCom2023-06-05T10:56:47+02:00
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 after it became apparent that the provisions of the 1992 Climate Convention in Rio de Janeiro were not specific and binding enough to achieve effective climate protection.
In the first period from 2008 to 2012, the industrialized countries that had signed the treaty committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2% compared to 1990 levels. In the second commitment period from 2013-2020, the target was an 8% reduction. The protocol entered into force in 2005 and was ratified by more than 55 countries responsible for more than 55% of CO2 emissions in industrialized countries. Switzerland also ratified the protocol in 2003.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its objective is to provide governments and key decision-makers with scientific information for the development of climate policy measures.
The IPCC reports summarize current knowledge on drivers, impacts and future risks of climate change. In 2023, the sixth IPCC report was published. The IPCC reports are publicly available (https://www.ipcc.ch/reports/)
and provide scientific information on climate change.
The AI chatbot #chatIPCC provides answers to your questions about climate change and the IPCC reports: www.chatclimate.ai
Source: IPCC (o.D.), ChatClimate (o.D.)
1988: First IPCC ReportHasCom2023-06-05T11:30:53+02:00