Federal Council lays groundwork for export of CO2 for sub-seabed storage

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At its meeting on 22 November 2023, the Federal Council decided to ratify the 2009 amendment to the London Protocol. From 2024, it will therefore be possible to export CO2 for storage in sub-seabed geological formations.

According to a Federal Council report of 18 May 2022, the further development of negative emission technologies, particularly permanent CO2 storage, is crucial for achieving both national and international climate objectives. To achieve the goal of long-term net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, Switzerland will also need to use storage sites abroad. One such option is the storage of CO2 in sub-seabed geological formations.

The 1996 Protocol to the 1972 Convention to the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, also known as the London Protocol, currently allows for the storage of CO2 streams beneath the seabed. As it currently stands, however, the London Protocol expressly prohibits the export of waste or other matter to other countries for dumping or incineration at sea.

The 2009 amendment to the London Protocol exempts CO2 intended for storage in sub-seabed geological formations from this general export ban. By ratifying this amendment, the Federal Council is facilitating the export of CO2 for sub-seabed storage from 2024 onwards, thereby removing a significant barrier to achieving climate neutrality.