From 2000 to 2017, Switzerland’s total final energy demand of decreased from 20.1 to 19.3 Mtoe (i.e., by 4%). The transport sector remained the largest consumer, with a slight growth in the share of total final energy demand from 37% in 2000 to 38% in 2017 (in spite of the decrease in absolute value by 1% from 7.45 to 7.36 Mtoe). While the household and industry sectors both experienced a reduction in their shares of total final energy demand by 1% and 2% respectively (absolute change: -5.1% and -12%), the share of services in total final energy demand remained at 17% of total final energy demand.  

Figure 1: Final energy consumption by sector (normal climate)


Overall nation-wide energy efficiency of Switzerland improved at the rate of 1.5% p.a., as measured by the ODEX (23% total improvement) from 2000 to 2017. The energy efficiency of the transport sector improved at a rate of 1.8% p.a., making it the fastest improving sector in Switzerland. The household sector improved its energy efficiency at 1.6% p.a., followed by the industry sector with an energy efficiency improvement rate of 1.4% p.a. With a rate of 1.1% p.a., the tertiary sector displayed the slowest improvement in energy efficiency from 2000 to 2017.

Figure 2: Technical Energy Efficiency Index


In May 2017, the Swiss electorate accepted the revised Federal Energy Act which prepares Switzerland for the energy transition by introducing new and modifying existing measures to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy. The law also prohibits the investment in new nuclear power plants. The Act for example defines reference values of -16% energy consumption per person until 2020 and -43% energy consumption per person until 2035 compared to 2000. The Act also aims to expand electricity production from new renewables to 4.4 TWh by 2020 and to 11.4 TWh by 2035. The new Act represents the first bundle of measures under the Energy Strategy 2050. The second bundle of measures was including a broader carbon and energy tax which was already politically rejected before the legislative process even started. In order to reach the targets of the Paris agreement and the envisaged energy savings of the Energy Strategy 2050, the new CO2 law, which is currently (2020) in the legislative process, includes measures like an increase of the existing CO2 levy up to a maximum of 210 CHF/tCO2.

Table 1: Sample of cross-cutting measures

MeasuresNEEAP measuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
CO2-Levy yesKey instrument in order to achieve the Swiss CO2 emission targets as defined in the CO2 Act. The levy per ton of CO2 applies to fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal but transport fuels are exempted. About one third of total CO2 emissions in Switzerland are covered by the levy. The tax creates an incentive for a more efficient use of fossil fuels and/or for a fuel switch to less carbon intensive sources by increasing their price. The price has been increased from 12 CHF in 2008 to 96 CHF/t CO2 in 2018.By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 1.5 million tons of CO2 relative to reference scenarioLink
Feed-in-RemunerationyesProducers of renewable power can claim financial support for the produced energy. Since 2018 the support scheme is more market-oriented system and combines direct-marketing with a flexible premium. For (small) PV installations a one-off payment is in place.By 2018: financially supported electricity production: 11.4 PJ Link
Source: MURE


In 2017, space heating accounted for 72.8% of the sector’s final energy demand, electrical appliances for 12.8% and water heating for 14.4% . While energy demand of electrical appliances increased by 0.11% p.a. from 2000 to 2017, final energy demand for space heating (climate corrected) decreased by 1.0% p.a. over the same period. Final energy demand for water heating stayed almost constant (decrease by -0.01% p.a.) and cooking increased slightly (by 0.5% p.a.). Hence residential final energy demand decreased by almost 0.21% p.a. from 2000 to 2017 thanks in particular to improved energy efficiency of space heating.

Figure 3: Energy consumption of space heating per m2


Figure 4: Energy consumption per dwelling by end-use (except space heating)


The final energy consumption of residential buildings was 0.21 Mtoe lower in 2017 than in 2000. Although more dwellings (increase by 1.01 Mtoe) and lifestyles (0.07 Mtoe for “more appliances per dwelling” and 0.31 Mtoe for “larger homes”) led to higher energy consumption, this growth was overcompensated by energy savings (1.51 Mtoe) and other effects mainly change in heating behaviour (0.17 Mtoe).     

Figure 5: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in households


Final energy consumption per employee is significantly decreased by 1.4% p.a. on average of from 2000 to 2017. On the other hand, electricity consumption per employee decreased by only 0.6 % p.a. over the same period (despite the fact that the final electricity consumption increased by 0.9% p.a. between 2000 and 2017). 

Figure 6: Energy and electricity consumption per employee (normal climate)


In Switzerland, the building industry is responsible for approximately 40% of all climate damaging CO2 emissions and total energy consumption. With the buildings programme, the Federal Government in collaboration with the cantons aims to considerably reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions in this sector. In addition to the buildings programme, the cantons have established model ordinances that define minimum standards for new buildings targeting lower levels of energy consumption. The adoption of the updated standards (2014) into cantonal legislation, which for example foresees that a new buildings do not exceed a maximum of 3.5 litre heating oil equivalents of thermal energy, is currently (2020) still ongoing.

Table 2: Sample of policies and measures implemented in the building sector

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Buildings programmeThe buildings program aims to promote energy-efficient refurbishments of buildings as well as investments in renewable energies, waste heat recovery and the optimization of building services technology. Owners of buildings can apply for subsidies and thus benefit from financial support, lower heating costs and an increased market value of their property. Part of it is financed through the CO2-levy revenue.By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 1.0 million tonnes of CO2 relative to reference scenarioLink
Cantonal energy policyUnder the second CO2-Act (Art. 9), the cantons are required to define standards that lead to the reduction of CO2-emissions in both new and old buildings. In this context, the cantons agreed to harmonize their building codes throughout Switzerland and established model ordinances (Mustervorschriften der Kantone im Energiebereich “MuKEn”).By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 1.8 million tons of CO2 relative to reference scenarioLink
Source: MURE


Road transport continued to represent the lion’s share of the sector's total final energy consumption (74% in 2000 to 73% in 2017).The share of air transport increased from 22.9% to 25.3% in the same time period. The share of rail transport increased by 0.8% from 2000 to 2017.

Figure 7: Split of the transport energy consumption by mode


Passenger transport is dominated by cars accounting for 82.2% and 79.3% of total activity in the passenger traffic in 2000 and 2017 respectively. The share of passenger rail transport grew from 15.4% to 18.3% in the years 2000 to 2017. The share of buses remained unchanged at 2.4%.

Figure 8: Share of transport modes in passenger traffic


The share of freight transport by road in total freight transport grew from 58% in 2000 to 62% in 2017. In the same period, the share of freight transport by rail dropped from 42% to 38%. Freight traffic by water is virtually non-existent in Switzerland.

Figure 9: Share of modes in freight traffic


The total final energy demand of the transport sector hardly changed from 2000 to 2017 (decrease by 0.1% p.a.). Growth in the activity of transport sector (measured in Gtkm) was offset by higher energy efficiency resulting in the aforementioned slight reduction in the sector’s total final energy demand (from 5.75 Mtoe to 5.66 Mtoe).

Figure 10: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in transport (2000-2014)


Within the transport sector, various measures are intended to reduce CO2 emissions and to internalise local external effects. There are, however, also measures that incentivise a switch of the transportation to more environmentally friendly options (for example rail) or which allow to compensate emissions of the transport sector in other sectors via carbon offsets.

Table 3: Policies and measures into force in the transport sector

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Heavy vehicle feeThe fee is levied on both domestic and foreign vehicles that exceed the maximum permissible total weight of 3.5 tonnes. The total amount charged depends on different characteristics of the vehicle such as total weight, emissions as well as the kilometres driven on the public highways in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.In 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 100’000 tonnes of CO2 relative to reference scenarioLink
CO2 emissions regulations for passenger cars and light commercial vehiclesSwitzerland adopted the CO2 emissions standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles of the EU. The regulation defines maximum levels (on fleet average) of grams of CO2 per kilometre and corresponding penalties in case of breaches. By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 0.6 million tons of CO2 relative to reference scenario Link
Compensation for CO2 emissionsImporters of transport fuels (e.g. mineral oil companies) are required to compensate a share of the CO2 emissions from the sold fuels Under the current law (2020), the compensation must take place domestically.By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 0.6 million tons of CO2. Relative to reference scenario Link
Source: MURE


The share of energy-intensive branches (metals, cement and paper) dropped from 37% in 2002 to 31% in 2017 while the share of chemical industry grew from 20% to 22% of the industry’s total final energy demand. The total share of all other branches amounted to 46% and 47% respectively.

Figure 11: Final energy consumption by branch (consumption by branch not available before 2002)

Source: ODYSSEE, steel including blast furnaces

The rate of energy efficiency improvement was highest for the non-ferrous metals sector (2.8% p.a.). Parallel to its drop in activity level from 2002 to 2017, the paper industry experienced an improvement in energy efficiency at a rate of 2.0% p.a. In contrast, energy efficiency in chemical manufacturing, food industry and machinery and metal fabrication deteriorated from 2002 to 2017.

Figure 12: Unit consumption of energy‐intensive products (toe/t)


Despite overall growth in the activity level of industry, the combined effect of a structural change towards less energy-intensive manufacturing and energy savings achieved during 2000 to 2017 caused the total final energy demand of the industry sector to drop at the average annual rate of 0.8%. 

Figure 13: Main drivers of the energy consumption variation in industry


Various measures exist in the industry sector which give a choice to companies of different sizes to choose their preferred option. Large and greenhouse gas intensive companies must participate in the Swiss emissions trading scheme (CH ETS) but are then exempted from the CO2 levy. Companies, which are not regulated by CH ETS, can enter into an emission reduction target agreement and will also be exempted from the levy.

Table 4: Policies and measures into force in industry

MeasuresDescriptionExpected savings, impact evaluationMore information available
Emissions trading schemeThe Swiss ETS covers around 50 installations from energy intensive industries, around 10% of Swiss greenhouse gas emissions. The Swiss ETS copied to a great part the European emissions trading rules and is linked to the EU ETS since 2020. By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 0.2 million tons of CO2. Relative to reference scenarioLink
Emission reduction target agreementsGreenhouse-gas intensive companies can be exempted from the CO2-levy if they commit to reduce their emissions by 2020 based on an emission reduction target agreement. By 2020: estimated mitigation impact of 1.5 million tons of CO2 relative to reference scenarioLink
Source: MURE