Climate Change in Switzerland

Article by Sarah Bach, a volunteer for Climate Justice for All

Most of the rain fell during heavy thunderstorms, often accompanied by hail. (Timo Wolff)

It seems strange to put Switzerland in a line with other countries affected by climate change: not because we don’t suffer from climate change as well but because we, as Swiss people, should be very aware of how our problems stand in relation to our wealth. If I write about climate change in Switzerland, please be aware that we are, for the most part, able to pay for repairs and implement certain solutions by ourselves – a privilege not all countries have. When it comes to climate justice, more responsibility is laid on countries like Switzerland. We have financial and technical resources that should be shared with the global community and we should reduce our carbon emissions more than other countries because of these resources.


Zurich was hit badly by a rain and hailstorm (KEYSTONE/Ennio Leanza)

Not all Swiss people share this thought. Just this spring we had to vote on a new law, implemented to make sure we can still have the possibility to reach the limit set at the COP21 in Paris. The law was rejected by a margin. It seems ironic that, shortly after this vote, Switzerland was hit by some of the worst rainstorms it has ever seen. Our April and May were already quite wet, and we already had some frost damage on certain crops. Then the torrential rain that fell over the course of the months of June and July not only destroyed crops, trees and washed a significant amount of nutrients out of our fields, but also flooded certain villages and cities and destroyed property, with most rivers and lakes overflowing.


Almost all rivers went overboard. (Manuel Geisser/ imago)

Climate cannot be reduced to weather, so much is obvious. But our climate does have an impact on our weather, as can be seen with such intense weather events. Because the air is hotter, more water can be held by the air, which must be released at some point. Many climate scientists point this out, but I am unsure how lasting such events are in the minds of people. Would they now vote differently on the law on carbon emissions we wanted to implement in the spring? Or would they still vote the same, comfortably basking in the myth that we, as Swiss people, will always be able to hold our head above the (rising) waters?


Only time will tell, but I will keep on praying and working towards a Switzerland that acknowledges its pivotal role in the fight for climate justice – and I am very thankful to not be alone in this fight, but to be one voice among many.