Even a small country such as Liechtenstein can make a contribution to climate protection and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Principality of Liechtenstein joined the Kyoto Protocol in 2005. The UN Convention on Climate Change already entered into force for Liechtenstein in 1994. To implement the obligations arising from these conventions more efficiently, Liechtenstein is creating a special Climate Protection Act.
Liechtenstein has embedded its climate policy in its individual sectoral policies. The focus is on energy policy, environmental and transportation policy, forestry and agricultural policy. When setting forth measures to reduce greenhouse gases, Liechtenstein places special emphasis on measures that entail an additional local benefit. In 2004, Liechtenstein ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force one year later. After supporting the sustainability objectives of the United Nations for the protection of the environment at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, Liechtenstein is now planning the creation of a special Climate Protection Act which takes the Kyoto Protocol into account. In its report submitted for consultations until the middle of May, the Government states: "This Act will take into account the international goals and developments relating to climate protection."
The goal of the new law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the application of market instruments. Accordingly, the draft law lays down the requirement for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Liechtenstein, and at the same time, a framework for utilizing flexible mechanisms in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol is defined. This means that Liechtenstein is seizing the opportunity to participate in the evolving market for the trade of emissions certificates. The Government report on the Climate Protection Act indicates that, because of its high emissions, Liechtenstein will have to adopt a dual strategy encompassing both measures in Liechtenstein and the use of project mechanisms in order to fulfill its obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Experts believe that domestic measures alone will hardly suffice to fill the target gap for the 2008 to 2012 period.
According to the Initial Report, in which the emissions of individual countries are assessed, Liechtenstein's total emissions in the 1990 base year amounted to 230,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, increasing to 271,000 tons by 2004. Since Liechtenstein committed itself with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 8% relative to 1990, a target gap of approximately 60,000 tons arises. To meet this obligation, Liechtenstein would have to reduce its current greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20%. Since such a substantial reduction appears impossible in the short term, Liechtenstein is considering participation in the Climate Fund or implementation of projects together with other countries, for instance in the framework of development cooperation.
According to the draft law, the Government plans to specify in a National Climate Protection Strategy how the reduction obligations between 2008 and 2012 will be met. According to the estimates contained in the climate report, transportation causes approximately 25% of overall emissions in Liechtenstein. Household emissions are estimated at 40%, especially due to room and water heating. With respect to industrial emissions, which reach a share of 27%, energy generation and room heating also play a crucial role. The agricultural share of 8% is primarily caused by methane emissions from animal husbandry and laughing gas emissions from the storage and use of farm and mineral fertilizer.
In parallel with the core tasks of emissions reduction, Liechtenstein has taken several other measures in recent years that serve climate protection. The Government has signed a treaty to participate in the Swiss "Climate Cent" Foundation. Petroleum importers levy a "climate cent" on fuels as part of a voluntary measure. The climate cent has been levied automatically in Liechtenstein since 2005, but the revenue may be administered by Liechtenstein autonomously. The Government has established the goal of using these resources to fund projects for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The 2013 Energy Concept also contains measures to promote the use of renewable energy, to implement the Minergy standard for new public buildings, and to integrate wood-chip heaters in large projects. All of these measures serve the goal of reducing emissions. The State is serving as a role model for new buildings: The new Archives Building meets the Minergy standard requirements, and the new Parliament building only barely fails to meet the Minergy limits.
An Environmental Protection Act is also under preparation that will consolidate the existing individual laws pertaining to different areas of the environment. According to Minister of Environmental Affairs Hugo Quaderer, this new law is an "important change of direction in environmental policy". With its new law, Liechtenstein will take international developments in environmental policy into account, especially those shaped by cross-border international cooperation on the environment and a comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach to environmental protection. Minister of Environmental Affairs Quaderer explains that environmental protection is part of Liechtenstein foreign policy, referring to the obligations arising from the Rio Earth Summit: "At this conference, Liechtenstein and the entire international community committed themselves to implement the concept of sustainable development – i.e. a comprehensive strategy integrating economic, ecological, and social aspects equally – at the national and international level."
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