Climate change mitigation (Liechtenstein)
Why should we care about this issue
- Climate change
The state and impacts
b) What are the state (S) and impacts (I) related to this theme, including impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being, both at national level as well as in transboundary terms?
Total greenhouse gas emissions increased by almost 6 % from 1990 to 2007. From 2006 to 2007, a pronounced decrease was observed due to high prices of combustibles and a mild winter with a low number of heating days.
In recent years, various research programmes on the effects of global climate warming in the Alpine region have been conducted. The development so far and projections indicate that noticeable effects are to be expected. Changes to the permafrost boundary and water drainages will play a central role in this regard. Liechtenstein is also affected by these developments.
It is, however, difficult to transfer the consequences of global climate warming calculated on the basis of models, primarily for Switzerland, to the spatial scale of Liechtenstein. The available climate models are not yet able to predict detailed regional consequences. Overall, the following general effects can be expected as a consequence of a further increase in CO2 concentrations and the associated rise in temperature:
The increase in intensity of heat waves in combination with high tropospheric ozone concentrations represents the greatest risk that climate change poses to people’s health (increased mortality). Another important impact of climate change on health is the occurrence of vector-borne diseases. Tropical diseases will increasingly occur in central Europe (malaria, dengue fever), and existing diseases will spread to higher elevations and therefore also to new regions of the country (borreliosis, meningitis). There is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what future developments will be.
Warming changes the composition of forest vegetation. Deciduous trees may become more important than today. Additional weather instabilities such as storms and avalanches may have a further negative effect on forest vegetation.
Water cycles and soil
The increasing weather instabilities may lead to floods in winter and droughts in summer. A great danger in this regard exists in the narrow Alpine valleys (mountain streams), where various protective measures (e.g., rock fall barriers and water course corrections) are necessary. A further danger is posed by the river Rhine which, although regulated, may endanger the heavily used Rhine Valley floor in the event of a flood.
Within the next decades, Liechtenstein’s tourism sector will have to deal with great challenges caused by climate change related developments in ecosystems. Especially the winter tourism sector will be hit by higher temperatures as the rise of the freezing level will lead to higher snow lines. As a consequence, the skiing periods will be shorter, especially for skiing areas situated between 1500m and 2000m, for example Malbun. Consequences will be fewer hotel overnight stays as well as fewer guests in the sectors of winter sports and gastronomy.
Other economic sectors
Global climate warming will affect further economic sectors in Liechtenstein. Because of the processes described above, agriculture and forestry will be directly affected. A rise in temperatures will have a negative effect on the productivity of grain cultivation in the long term. The expected increase in elevation of the snow and increasing weather instability also have an effect on the important recreation areas of Malbun and Steg. The international involvement of the insurance sector will likely suffer the most severe consequences from an increase in the probability of losses.
As a pure mountain country, Liechtenstein is dependent on the stability of the ecosystem. This is an important reason why Liechtenstein has initiated an active climate policy and why it takes part in international networks such as the Alpine Convention.
The key drivers and pressures
c) What are the related key drivers (D) and pressures (P) at national level?
In 2008, Liechtenstein emitted 263.4 Gg CO2 equivalent (excluding LULUCF) to the atmosphere corresponding to 7.4 tonnes CO2 equivalent per capita. About 88 % of all greenhouse gas emissions were caused by energy-related processes. These are distributed as follows: 39 % by transport, 14 % by manufacturing industries and construction, and 43 % ’other sectors‘ (residential, institutional, and commercial combustion). Compared to 1990, emissions have increased by 14.7 %.
Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) alone amount to nearly 229.9 Gg or 87.2 % of the total emissions in 2008. Of the 229.9 Gg, 39.6 % are due to the transport sector, 14.4 % to industry, and 43.7 % to ‘other sectors’.
Methane emissions (CH4) in 2008 amount to 0.71 Gg – corresponding 14.9 Gg CO2 eq - and are largely due to agriculture (81.7 %). Compared to 1990, agricultural methane emissions have increased, which is the result of an increase in the sector’s energy and waste. The share of methane on the overall greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2 equivalent) is 0.27 %.
Nitrous oxide emissions (N2O) in 2008 amount to 0.04 Gg – corresponding 13.0 Gg CO2 eq - and arise primarily from agriculture (80.8 %) with minor contributions from transport (4.8 %) and waste (9.2 %). The share of N2O in the overall GHG emissions (in CO2 equivalent) is 0.016 %.
The 2020 outlook
d) What is the 2020 outlook (date flexible) for the topic in question and how will this affect possible impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being?
Projections for 2020 show a decrease of 10 % respectively 22.2 Gg CO2 equivalents compared to 1990 and a total decrease of 15 % compared to 2007 due to policy measures implemented. For the period 1990-2020, CO2, CH4 and N2O will change by -13 %, +10 % and 0 % respectively. Synthetic gases are expected to decrease by 20 % between 2007 and 2020 (further information can be obtained from Liechtenstein’s Fifth National Communication (January 2010).
Existing and planned responses
e) Which responses (R) have been put in place or are planned at national level for the theme in question?
Liechtenstein endeavours to enshrine the principle of sustainability in its policies. This includes provident use of resources and maintenance of a high quality of life. To the extent possible, Liechtenstein also tries to make a contribution to the solution of global environmental problems. Climate protection enjoys a high political priority in this regard, constituting a primary field of action in Liechtenstein's environmental policy.
Liechtenstein has integrated its climate policy very strongly into the individual sectoral policies. The focus is on energy policy, environmental policy, transport policy, agricultural and forestry policy. All of these areas encompass measures that contribute to the reduction of climate gases. In order to ensure a coordinated implementation of climate policies within the various areas the government passed a Climate Protection Strategy in 2007. The strategy requires an interdisciplinary coordination in the fields of environment, energy, building, transportation, agriculture and forestry with respect to the development of climate policy measures. Liechtenstein’s Ministry of Environment and the Office of Environmental Protection are the coordinating authorities with respect to the execution of the Climate Protection Strategy.
Because of the small size of the country, however, cross-border cooperation plays an important role. Especially important is the relationship with Switzerland and the cooperation among the countries in the Lake Constance area (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). Thanks to the Customs Union Treaty, cross-border measures and bilateral implementation are simplified in many areas, since various Swiss enactments are directly applicable in Liechtenstein pursuant to the Treaty. In these cases, Liechtenstein executes the provisions similarly to a Swiss canton (e.g. mineral oil tax). Accordingly, most policy areas are closely linked with Swiss policy, in terms of both content and implementation.
Pursuant to the cross-border cooperation with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland concluded ‘The bilateral Agreement between the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation on Environmental Levies within the Principality of Liechtenstein’ (2009). The agreement enables Liechtenstein to implement several environmental levies of Switzerland into national law while using the existing infrastructure of the Swiss authorities for the execution of the respective national laws. The Ministry of Environment and the Office of Environmental Protection and the Office for Foreign Affairs are the competent authorities with respect to the execution of the bilateral agreement.
Based on the above, a series of legislative and administrative arrangements to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases have been put into force in the past:
- Climate Protection Strategy (2007): basis for a clear strategy to realise a consequent and transparent climate policy and to define the manner in which to fulfil the emission reduction commitment domestically and abroad.
- Emissons Trading Act (2008): sets up the general framework for the fulfilment of Liechtenstein’s reduction obligations originating from the respective ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The EHG states that emission reductions are first and foremost to be reduced by inland measures. If the reduction obligations cannot be fulfilled through national measures, the government may participate in project activities abroad or in international emissions trading. Besides this, the EHG implements Directive 2003/87/EC (Emissions Trading Directive) into national law and obliges two industrial installations (2009) to participate within the European Emissions Trading Scheme.
- Energy Efficiency Act (2007): adopted to push the energy concept 2013 which postulates different energy political goals and contains a bundle of measures for a meaningful use of energy in Liechtenstein.
- CO2-Law (2009): corresponds with the CO2 Act of Switzerland (in force since 2008) and introduces a levy on the consumption of fossil fuel (oil and natural gas). The CO2 Act is part of ’The bilateral agreement between the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation on Environmental Levies within the Principality of Liechtenstein’.
- The climate cent (2005): levied on engine fuel in Switzerland since October 2005 and is also being levied in Liechtenstein. The Government has signed an agreement with the Swiss ‘Climate Cent Foundation’ to this effect, governing the administrative and organisational measures. The revenue will be earmarked for climate protection projects in Liechtenstein and abroad.
- Action Plan Air (2007): measure plan according to air pollution control regulations within the Environmental Protection Act.
More detailed information and most of the related data are available in:
- Liechtenstein’s greenhouse gas inventory -
- Liechtenstein‘s Fifth National Communication under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol -
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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