Liechtenstein country briefing - The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Briefing Published 18 Feb 2015 Last modified 11 May 2020
6 min read
Photo: © Clemens v. Vogelsang

Main themes and sectors addressed in the national State of Environment report

Liechtenstein first compiled an environmental report in 2004. Since 2010 the regular environmental statistics have been published.[1] The legal provisions for the environmental statistics are contained within the Statistics Act.[2]

The statistics aim to illustrate the condition and development of Liechtenstein's environment as well as to provide comparative data to other countries.

These statistics contains tables, partially dated back to the seventies, and extensive maps for visualizing tables and indicators. Templates for those indicators came from the environmental indicators of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (FSO), and indicators for sustainable development of the Statistical Office of Liechtenstein. The Environmental Statistics consists of three parts.

  • The first part presents the results of new environmental statistics and compares these with previous years as well as other countries. 
  • In the second part, detailed data tables and maps as well as indicators are listed.
  • The third part describes the methodology used in the environment statistics. 

The following environmental issues are analysed:

  • air, 
  • climate, 
  • water, 
  • soil, 
  • landscape, 
  • biodiversity, 
  • forests, 
  • waste, 
  • noise, and 
  • environmental levies.

Key findings of the State of Environment report

Liechtenstein selected and described five important environmental topics as key findings: particulate matter air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), forest habitats, waste and traffic noise. As those issues are up for discussion on a regular basis in the environment sector those key findings were selected as they are recurrently debated in Liechtenstein.

Particulate matter air pollution decreases (PM10)

Particulate matter pollution has been reduced in 2012 compared to the previous year. Nitrogen pollution was also lower in 2012 than in 2011. However, the limit values at various locations were regularly exceeded. The ozone concentration exceeded the limit in 2012, despite a decline compared to the previous year.

Greenhouse gas emissions are above the target value

In 2012, 225 400 tonnes of CO2 equivalents were emitted. Thus, GHG emissions exceed the amount, stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol target for the period 2008 to 2012, of average 25 248 t per year. 2011 was the first time the greenhouse gas emissions were below the 1990 reference values (228 100 t).

Figure 1: Total greenhouse gas emissions within the first commitment period

Source: Liechtenstein's National Inventory Report 2014
Note: The red line represents the Kyoto target (-8 % of 1990 emissions)

Forest habitat quality increases

The forest habitat value is an ecological index for the quality of the forest as a habitat for animals and plants. In 2010, according to the forest inventory of Liechtenstein, 35.3 % of the forests exhibited a high habitat value. Thus, the share has increased by 24.2 % in the last 12 years. In 1998, 11.1 % of the forests were classified with a high habitat value.

Municipal waste slightly decreases

In 2012 about 28 200 t of municipal waste were generated. Compared to 2011 the municipal waste decreased by 200 tonnes. The recycling rate was 64.6 % in 2012. Hence, it has risen slightly compared to 2011 when it was at 64.1 %.

13 % of the general public is affected by road traffic noise daily

In 2010 4 741 persons were burdened by traffic noise of 60 dB (A) or more. This corresponds to 13.1 % of the population. At night 3 587 persons or 9.9 % of the population were exposed to traffic noise of 50 dB (A) or more. The noise exposure is thus significantly reduced during the night compared to the day.[3]

Main policy responses to key environmental challenges and concerns

Liechtenstein, as a member of the Convention on Biodiversity, aims to strengthen the protection and sustainability of biodiversity. For sectors with biodiversity many concepts and approaches already exist. Examples include nature and landscape protection for Liechtenstein forests; the development of nature and agriculture; as well as regional cooperation such as in the Alpenrhein area.

In the current revision of the Water Protection Ordinance the space occupied by water in Liechtenstein is defined. Defining this "water space" allows for sustainable and spatial planning backup to take place as regards flood protection and the maintenance of ecological integrity. The use of this space by agriculture is limited by law as well as any structural use.

For the water space calculation the dimension of the natural channel width of a waterbody, if enabled to flow freely under natural conditions, serves as the basic input.

A water body in ecologically valuable areas or used for agriculture is allocated even more space using an additional biodiversity curve.

In addition to preserving a self-cleaning capacity, the linking of habitats and a reduction in nutrient input, conservation of specific areas also has priority.

Protecting water bodies for future generations against buildings and fixed construction is an important part of the riverine zone policies.

Liechtenstein has integrated its climate policy very strongly into individual sectorial policies. The focus is on energy, environmental, transport, agricultural and forestry policies. 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. The strategy will be revised in the course of 2014.

Liechtenstein's Ministry of Environment and the Office of Environment 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 cooperation among the countries in the Lake Constance area. Thanks to the Customs Treaty, cross-border measures and bilateral execution 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 very closely linked with Swiss policy, in terms of both content and execution. Due to this circumstance Liechtenstein, as an EEA Member State, always evaluates Swiss as well as European law.

In addition to the above mentioned policies the LIFE Climate Foundation must be mentioned. The LIFE Climate Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims at the promotion of a sustainable and credible advancement of climate and environmental protection through an effective inclusion of financial intermediaries and the general public.

Country specific issues

As Liechtenstein is a small country the financial and capacity resources are limited. In addition, Liechtenstein's engagement with regard to research and systematic observation that address international activities is very limited.

Since 2012 the Government provides financial support to the LIFE Climate Foundation Liechtenstein[4] (established in 2009) on a regular basis. The nonprofit foundation therefore concluded a cooperation agreement with the Swiss Climate Foundation. Since 2012 Liechtenstein based SMEs are eligible to apply for financial support if they implement efficiency measures or if they seek financial help for the development of innovative projects that demonstrate a GHG mitigation impact. In addition, LIFE Climate Foundation is a national initiative and aims to further strengthen public awareness by organizing events and workshops which cover the topics of climate change and other ecological topics.

The foundation acts within the framework of a Public-Private Partnership. The participation of representatives from the country's economy as well as from science and policy sectors provide important access to the relevant players and driving forces within environmental and carbon markets. The close cooperation with the University of Liechtenstein's Institute for Financial Services offers the possibility to examine environmental questions related to financial issues on an academic basis. Further information is available on 

Footnotes and references

[2] Statistikgesetz vom 17. September 2008, LGBl. 2008 Nr. 271.

[3] Amt für Statistik Liechtenstein: Umweltstatistik 2012

[4] LIFE Climate Foundation Liechtenstein

Additional sources:

Liechtenstein’s Green House Gas Inventory 1990-2012, National Inventory Report 2014

Liechtenstein’s Informative Inventory Report 2014, CLRTAP

Picture: Steg, Liechtenstein



The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage


Filed under:
Filed under: country briefings
Document Actions