The 8th of March 2017 was a momentous day for the future of climate friendly mobility in Switzerland. The Council of States, which is the Upper Chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, adopted the Motion Böhni. Now that both the Council of States and National Council, the Lower Chamber of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, who also adopting the motion last year, this is a great step forward for climate friendly mobility in Switzerland.
Motion Böhni was initiated to ensure that Carbon Neutral E-synthetic fuels were recognised in vehicle fleet import policy. Currently, policy is rightly geared towards increased efficiency of new imported cars, with the CO2 output of cars falling from 130 g/km to 95 g/km in 2020, and electro mobility. If fleets of vehicles exceed the efficiency limit, then importers are sanctioned per car in the fleet. With climate neutral power-to-gas technology now also set to be written into policy, mobility in Switzerland could become a lot cleaner in the interim period.
This technology, made possible by Climeworks, an innovative Swiss firm, and Sunfire, from Germany, enables CO2, which has been taken from the air using renewable energy, to be transformed into gas or liquid fuel, using water and renewable energy. This results in a closed carbon cycle with no need for fossil fuels. It is possible to use this fuel in all current infrastructure, including petrol stations, and all vehicles.
Whilst electro mobility and more efficient vehicles are key to eventually cleaning up the auto industry and reducing its burden on the climate, the interim period will still rely heavily upon fossil fuels. Even when we get to the stage when our cars are pumping very little carbon into the atmosphere, freight vehicles and aeroplanes are likely to still be heavy users of fuels. New legislation will enable the auto industry to produce CO2 neutral synthetic fuels and put them into the system, reducing their fossil fuel burden. If they put in as much synthetic fuel into the system as their entire fleet of cars will use in their life time, then their cars will effectively be run without the use of any fossil fuels.
This means that there is greater incentive for the auto industry to invest heavily in technology like that of Climeworks, to ensure that creating e-synthetic fuel becomes even more cost effective and efficient. The car industry has already begun to invest in technology to produce climate neutral fuel and Audi have given financial and technical support to Climeworks. Now that the Motion Böhni has been adopted by both chambers it puts Switzerland in pole position to lead the world in climate friendly mobility innovation. There will now be an acceleration of CO2 neutral fuel innovation in Switzerland.
Currently, the EU does not recognise CO2 neutral synthetic fuels in its policy, which also sees the efficiency of new imported cars increase to 95 g/km of CO2 in to the atmosphere by 2020. Following the adoption by the Swiss Council of States and the National Council, there is hope that the EU will also begin considering recognising CO2 neutral synthetic fuels in their policy, creating cleaner mobility across the entire region.