Swiss vote on climate bill as Alpine nation's iconic glaciers succumb to warming

Swiss glaciers experienced record melting last year

Switzerland Climate Change

Swiss voters are going to the polls on Sunday to decide on a bill aimed at introducing new climate measures to sharply curb the rich Alpine nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

The referendum was sparked by a campaign by scientists and environmentalists to save Switzerland's iconic glaciers, which are melting away at an alarming rate.

Campaigners initially proposed even more ambitious measures but later backed a government plan that requires Switzerland to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

It also sets aside more than 3 billion Swiss francs (USD 3.357 billion) to help wean companies and homeowners off fossil fuels.

The nationalist Swiss People's Party, which demanded a popular vote on the bill, claims the proposed measures will cause electricity prices to rise.

Backers of the plan argue that Switzerland will be hard-hit by global warming and is already seeing the effects of rising temperatures on its famous glaciers.

Swiss glaciers experienced record melting last year, losing more than 6 per cent of their volume and alarming scientists who say a loss of 2 per cent would once have been considered extreme.

Experts such as Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the Swiss Institute for Technology in Zurich, have taken to posting dramatic snapshots of retreating glaciers and rockslides from melting permafrost on social media to highlight the changes taking place in the Alps.

Let's act as long as we can still prevent the worst, he recently wrote on Twitter. 


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