By signing the Paris Agreement, Switzerland for example has set itself the goal of reducing its CO₂ emissions by 50 per cent (in comparison to 1990 levels) by 2030. The Paris Agreement recommends that countries voluntarily work together to achieve national emissions reduction targets (Nationally determined contribution, NDC). This cooperation may be bilateral or multilateral.
As of 20 October 2020, Switzerland was the first country to reach a bilateral agreement under the Paris Climate Accords with another country, in that case Peru. Since then, Swiss climate diplomats have negotiated many “implementing agreements” – with Senegal, Ghana, Vanuatu and Georgia, among others – in order to implement offsetting projects in accordance with Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement, and thereby to register emissions reductions facilitated abroad in Switzerland. To do so, the contracting parties must apply the principles of the Paris Agreement. Namely, they are obliged to guarantee environmental integrity and transparency, to support sustainable development and to use a reliable system to prevent double counting of emissions reductions (corresponding adjustments) by the respective countries (or countries and private actors). These very important implementation rules were the subject of intense discussion over a long period. They were finally agreed upon at COP26 in Glasgow under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Switzerland will be the first country in the world to offset a portion of its greenhouse gas emissions through cooperation with partner countries in accordance with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (compliance). The resulting “Paris certificates” are traded as foreign emissions reductions, officially known as ITMOs (Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes). Countries that have signed a bilateral agreement with Switzerland are facilitating climate protection activities which go beyond the international obligations of the respective country. This enables these countries to implement a level of climate protection that would not have taken place without cooperation and financing from Switzerland. It makes no difference to the climate where on the earth the emissions are reduced – however, in Switzerland, implementing such measures is significantly more expensive and complex, since the demand for carbon offset projects exceeds supply.