Right-wing party calls referendum against Swiss climate bill

FILE PHOTO: Swiss People's Party President Chiesa delivers a speech after his election

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) on Thursday called a referendum aimed at blocking a draft law to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The SVP, a member of the ruling coalition in Bern, said it had garnered more than 103,000 signatures in support of its campaign against the law, which aims to make Switzerland carbon-neutral by 2050.

"(This) law is expensive, mendacious and dangerous," the SVP said in a statement. "Even though we already have too little power it wants to outlaw heating oil, gas, diesel and petrol as energy sources."

The party, which also favours tighter curbs on immigration, is the biggest in Switzerland's 200-member federal parliament.

No other party has supported its referendum against the proposed legislation on climate change, which would accelerate CO2 emissions cuts and the roll-out of renewable energy, notably solar energy, backed by 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.2 billion) of funding.

Greenpeace Switzerland said prior to the referendum's activation that it stood in stark opposition to the broad base of support for the climate law within parliament as a whole, and showed how "short-termist and divorced from reality" the SVP’s climate policies were.

In Switzerland, proposed referendums require 50,000 signatures to be activated.

World Wildlife Fund Switzerland said the law mapped out a path to "secure and independent energy provision" for the country.

"The climate crisis and biodiversity are closely linked," it added in a statement. ".... We are all subject to its impact, which will become ever more devastating unless we act resolutely to halt its progression."

The SVP argues that imposing further curbs would be counterproductive during Europe's current energy crisis.

The new draft on carbon emissions meanwhile also faces hurdles.

It too will require approval in a referendum to become law and is itself a watered-down version of a draft that failed to pass in 2021.

(Reporting by John Stonestreet; Edtiing by Tomasz Janowski)