The Swiss Environmental Minister gave her staff specifications for the elaboration of a new CO2 law, which would make it fall short of the Paris Agreement targets, as revealed by a leaked internal document.

Switzerland has set two climate targets: 

  • In 2030, the yearly greenhouse gas emissions should be 50% of what they were in 1990
  • Over the period 2021-2030, yearly emissions should be on average 35% of what they were in 1990

After a new emission reduction law was rejected by referendum in June 2021, and the old one consequently extended until 2025, the Swiss Environmental Minister Simonetta Sommaruga was tasked with coming up with a new law proposal that would cover emission reductions for the period 2025-2030.

The Minister set some specifications, to guide the elaboration of the proposal by her scientific offices. A leaked document reveals that these guidelines would make the law miss the first target by 3.1 million tons of CO2, and the second one by 23.6 million tons. To give a scale, the latter gap represents the yearly carbon footprint of over 5.3 million Swiss citizens today.

The scientific staff working for Sommaruga informed her of this gap in an internal document, which is what has been leaked as part of the ongoing Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion. This affair shows the incapability of the Minister to imagine solutions proportionate to the gravity and total urgency of the climate crisis.

I am appalled and unspeakably angry that a Federal Councillor is giving specifications for a law that will so clearly miss the Paris Agreement. In the leaked document, her staff tells her that her proposal will fall short by millions of tonnes of CO2, and will miss the international agreement to which Switzerland is committed.” says a person close to the leak.

This document would probably have been made public eventually. However, timing is important, considering that Mrs Sommaruga is now attending COP26 where Switzerland will attempt to put its best foot forward. Such information cannot be withheld from the public in an emergency, and this is why Scientist Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion Switzerland decided to publish the leak.

Politicians owe the people to inform themselves on the climate and ecological crises

Most of our politicians do not grasp that the climate and ecological crises have escalated into existential threats and total emergencies, and do not seek adequate information on the topic.

In protest to this, Guillermo Fernandez, a Swiss father of three, started a hunger strike in front of the Federal palace on November 1st. 

His demand is simple: he won’t eat until Mrs. Sommaruga convenes the Federal assembly, to let them be officially presented with the facts about the climate and ecological crises, as reported on by the Federal offices and international bodies recognised by Switzerland (IPBES, IPCC, WMO). Guillermo announced being ready to go to his death if the Minister doesn’t undertake this simple step that should have been taken long ago. 

The leaked document demonstrates yet again the importance of having political leaders ready to start from scientific reality, and not political expediency.

Scientists are leaking reports to protest governments dishonesty

In August this year, scientists taking part in the Scientist Rebellion leaked the latest draft of the next IPCC-report, in order to ensure its stark wording would reach the public, and could not possibly be edited out of the final version due to direct or indirect political pressure.

Just one week ago, the 32'000 comments made by nations on this same upcoming report were leaked by Unearthed. There, the public discovered that Switzerland is lobbying to pay less for vulnerable countries. Publishing these comments ahead of the COP exposed the lobbying efforts of many nations and showed their true intent. 

The documents leaked from the Swiss environmental office have the same function: to expose the double-dealing of political leaders when it comes to meeting climate targets.

Dr. Franziska Elmer, part of the Scientist Rebellion and the Extinction Rebellion in Switzerland:

As the climate crisis heightens, the lobbying pressure on scientists to mask the truth also seems to grow. This leads to more scientists taking the risky step of leaking documents in order to preserve the truth and increase transparency. They risk losing their job but take this risk because we are in an emergency.

A call to action

Extinction Rebellion calls on everyone to take their responsibilities and get in the way of the destruction of our climate and life-support systems in any manner they peacefully can. For all of us, this means taking risks and getting out of our comfort zone. Ask yourself what you can do in your position. For scientists, it can mean shedding light on the inner workings of the science/policy interface by leaking documents.

Scientist Rebellion is prepared to support any scientists who see the need to leak a climate- or ecocide-related document for the above mentioned reasons. We will keep you anonymous and will handle the press work for you. Write to