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AN EASY PILL TO SWALLOW.

The CO2 bill proposed by the Swiss Bundesrat which could raise the price of gasoline by 50 rappen and impose a penalty on any emissions exceeding one tonne per year became law without the intervention of a referendum on the part of the truck-drivers' union,Astag, or TCS (Touring Club Schweiz) and ACS (Automobile Club Schweiz), two interest groups for automobile drivers. The deadline for the referendum came and went without notice.

In what has been described as a "sly" move, the Bundesrat extended its deadline for meeting the requirements of the law and with that avoided conflict with the unions and interest groups. In accordance with the Kyoto-Agreement, by the year 2010 the Bundesrat seeks to achieve a 10% reduction of the 1990 amount of CO2 emission; included in this goal are a 15% reduction in heating-fuel emissions and an 8% reduction in propellant emissions. But instead of immediate enforcement, the Bundesrat opted to give the unions and interest groups time. They have until 2004 to meet the requirements on their own free will after which the law will strictly be enforced. The unions and interest groups seemed to be content with the situation. Patrick Eperon of TCS said that although many of their 1.5 million members are against such new legislation,the 8% reduction in four years shouldn't pose much of a problem. Beat Keiser of Astag shared Eperon's sentiments citing technological advances as the key to reducing fuel-consumption despite predictions of an increase in traffic. A referendum never came into question. For Astag, the difference was the fact that unlike the LSVA initiative, the new CO2 legislation was not directed solely at truck drivers. TCS and ACS took solace in the fact that although the Bundesrat has the power to introduce bills, Parliament is the deciding body of power in determining the conditions of them, in this case the emissions limits and the penalty amounts. Regardless: "It wouldn't have made sense to collect enough signatures for a referendum only to have it fail miserably in Parliament," according to Hans-Urs Merz, the general director of ACS. In addition, by accepting the CO2 bill, interest groups allowed themselves to concentrate their efforts on fighting other initiatives directed at automobiles and commercial vehicles.

In the end, Astag, TCS and ACS support a CO2 law that only comes into play should technological measures on their own free will prove to be insufficient. However, they will fight any coercive new bill regarding energy. Should the referendums prove in favour of the environment and solar intiatives or any parliamentary versions of the like, they will by all means reject and fight them.
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Author:MAUPIN, MICHAEL
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:440
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