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Executive Summary

Some abbreviations are used in this chapter. You can find explanations of all abbreviations in the glossary.


There is a broad, fact-based debate on specific solutions to the climate crisis. The public discussions do not focus on scenarios of possible consequences of global warming, but on how we want to live in a carbon-neutral world. Schools, media, politicians and NGOs make sure that reliable information is spread in an appropriate frequency and provide platforms for debates and peer-learning. Thus, citizens have an overview about the problems we have to tackle and what solutions exist, which is the basis for a constructive democratic process. They also provide action-related knowledge and relevant competences to avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily and therefore allow the legislator to focus on the complex problems.

Every person that goes through our education system is enabled to contribute to a CO2-neutral Switzerland as a citizen, as employee and as a part of the sovereign. There is a praxis-oriented climate education as a fixed part of all curricula and levels. These lessons focus on climate-relevant competences and climate education as a cross-sectional issue.

Current Situation

Public Knowledge and Behavior

The most important impulses for action are the knowledge about climate change causes, adequate and relevant competences and the right mindset. People must have the appropriate skills to actively and appropriately contribute to the societal task of reducing emissions. Lastly, they must have developed the right attitude and mindset to actually apply their knowledge and skills.

People must realize how climate change impacts their life, such as risks to people, places, traditions, or even values such as 'fairness' and 'justice' (Wang and Kim 2018), fellow human beings and the whole posterity. Additionally, they need to know how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 1.5° degrees and minimize the climate crisis.
This is currently not the case. Despite numerous good initiatives and many actors, most people in Switzerland lack the knowledge, the competences and the attitude to make it possible to avert a severe climate crisis. Our policies will change this with quite a number of approaches.

A short history of knowledge level: Between the 1990s and 2010 the factual knowledge about the climate crisis increased from a relatively minor level. In the following years (until the COP 21 in Paris) it stagnated. The action-related knowledge started on a higher standard, but does not follow such a clear trend.
In the 1990s big companies started to deny the existence of global warming despite better knowledge. At the end of the decade, they started to accept the scientific consensus themselves, but to support climate change deniers financially.

Current Means of Information


Currently, the government does not have major information campaigns for the broad public. The climate program of FOEN focuses on professional education. Until 2021 the climate program of FOEN is being revised and there are plans to expand the target group to the public. The CO2 talks that are offered in the French-speaking regions of Switzerland, in which the participants, under the supervision of a trained leader, look for an individual reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint while maintaining a high quality of life, are very successful. The courses are fully booked and are currently expanded to the German-speaking part.

Still the government euphemisms the role of Switzerland. For example, by talking about the inland emissions and ignoring the carbon footprint and the investments in fossil fuels.


The urgency in the practice of this topic is missing at all levels. Crisis awareness is lacking.
Behavioral research in the area of sustainability is not receiving enough attention. Education and research are strongly focused on the problem, but little on what the society needs to change to solve it, e.g. on climate relevant competences and behavior.

In recent years, curricula based on the ‘Lehrplan 21’ (Curriculum 21) have been developed for primary schools and secondary level I in the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. Education for sustainable development (Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Education en vue d’un Développement Durable, educazione allo Sviluppo Sostenibile, short ESD) is an integral part of this ‘Lehrplan 21’. Beside other subjects, it also includes climate education. But it strongly depends on the teacher how intense the climate crisis is taught. Furthermore, ESD is not a subject itself. It is much more a multidisciplinary approach. On the one hand, this can be an advantage in understanding complex issues. On the other hand, there is also the danger of getting lost between other topics. The implementation is in the teachers’ responsibility, sometimes also several teachers, and many of them lack adequate training (Schweizerische Konferenz der kantonalen Erziehungsdirektoren 2020). The ‘Plan d'études romand’ is the counterpart in French-speaking cantons to ‘Lehrplan 21’, where ESD is also included.

The corresponding framework for secondary schools II is the so-called ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ (Plans d’études cadres, Programmi quadro d’insegnamento). Currently, the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ for high schools is being revised and will be implemented in 2023.


There are big differences between media companies when it comes to articles about the climate crisis. The media attention for the climate crisis is on a high level since Paris. (Brüggemann et al. 2018; Forschungsinstitut Öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft 2017). But a more frequent reporting on climate change does not necessarily increase the public understanding of the topic. Brüggemann et al. (2018) criticizes that extreme weather scenarios are sometimes described as a direct consequence of global warming. Media tend to ignore uncertainties and to present scenarios as definite facts. Often the principle of balanced reporting leads to the result that high quality scientific information can be thwarted by nonqualified actors, mainly politicians (Michaels 2019).


Policy Measures

Policy 11.1: Climate Change Education as Core Element of the Education System at all Levels


Climate Change Education has to get a focal point at all school levels. In compulsory schooling the ESD has to be improved and enlarged. Additionally, climate change education must be included in the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ (outline curriculum) as a core element of high school education. The ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ will shortly be revised nationally by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) (Schweizerische Konferenz der kantonalen Erziehungsdirektoren 2020). The climate change education should be oriented towards the UNESCO learning goals in order to guarantee that not only knowledge but also competence is imparted (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs 2020).

ESD will most likely be included in the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’. However, it is crucial that sustainability is understood in the strong perspective and that the focus lies on competence development and not only knowledge transfer. The revision of the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ will be finished in autumn 2022. Cantons will start redefining their regional or local curricula parallel to the EDK process. The new ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ will be implemented in schools in 2023. It is very important that experts on climate change and sustainable development are involved and can have influence in the essential processes of the development of the new ‘Rahmenlehrplan’.


This measure ensures that climate change education must be a focal point at all school levels. In this way, all students will acquire the competence to understand sustainability in a strong perspective and can make decisions according to this knowledge.

Questions and Uncertainties

  • Is there a chance to get climate change education as a separate theme/topic into the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ or will it be included in ESD?
  • how to get influence in the process? It will be important to find out whether sustainability will be a theme (in geography or economy) or a cross-curricular dimension. If it will be cross-curricular, it is important to ensure all subject teachers understand what climate change education / ESD is about.

Policy 11.2: National Advanced Training Program on Climate Change Education for all Teachers


A compulsory national continuing education program on climate change education for teachers will be introduced. This program is aimed particularly at teachers already teaching, and not only at teachers in training. These further training courses are coordinated nationally but are implemented locally at the schools with smaller teams of teachers. The content of these training courses should be based on the UNESCO goals of the climate change education program and guarantee that the teachers understand the topic and are able to pass on their knowledge to their students using suitable teaching methods.


All teachers themselves have the competence to understand the climate crisis and to act on this knowledge. They can successfully pass this competence on to their students using suitable teaching methods. In this way, the steps laid down in the curriculum (Policy 11.1) can actually be implemented.

Policy 11.3: National Climate Action Week


The proposed ‘National Climate Action Week’ is intended to be an event taking place throughout Switzerland at schools and universities. During this experience-oriented week, all participating pupils and students deal with topics related to climatic and ecological changes. The Climate Action Week is intended to reach children and adolescents of all school levels regardless of their family background. The content can depend on school level and ranges from basic to background knowledge about the topic of climate change and its connection to personal and general energy and resource consumption. Topics can be taken from local or actual issues. In this way, the Climate Action Week addresses the gaps in knowledge formulated in the status quo and thus contributes to a comprehensive knowledge base and development of climate relevant competences, so that society as a whole can achieve responsible use of the environment.
In the current education system, the National Climate Action Week needs to be provided to the schools by the federal government and cantons via the conference of cantonal ministers of education. The already established and widespread structure of project-weeks can be used easily when appropriate material is available. This facilitates the preparation and implementation of the National Climate Action Week for teachers with the optional support of governmental and non-governmental climate protection organizations.
A proposed first step is the creation of a well-arranged platform with the availability or accessibility of the already existing environmental education material. Then, this is communicated in the cantonal and national education networks. This platform could configure education21 as an existing and functioning organization that distributes and funds environmental education nationwide.

A further step is to launch a compulsory and simultaneous National Climate Action Week for all school types. This increases the national attention for the project and thereby helps developing a general change in our society towards sustainable thinking and acting as well as towards competence- and value-oriented learning.
Several climate protection organizations already offer elements of whole day or week programs. The focus of Climate Action Weeks will be to build up and promote climate-relevant competences among pupils and students. It can include art or theatre methods and represent new types of cultural environmental education. It is not a question of reinventing the wheel, but of using existing innovative extra-curricular environmental education. It should be offered in a transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary manner and be accessible to everyone. The integration in the formal educational structure should be seen as multiple empowerments of the pupils as well as the teachers, school administrators and other educational actors towards a prioritization of climate-relevant issues.


The instrument of a project-week is already established in most schools around the country with specific financing practices. It should be possible for every school either to organize a self-directed Climate Action Week or to benefit from the expertise of governmental and non-governmental climate protection organizations - both with low costs. The financing of project-weeks with experts has to be provided by the State, the cantons and the schools, possibly supported by power supply and waste management companies.


The National Climate Action Week has an indirect impact on the climate and covers questions on climate change and energy supply as well as resource consumption on a personal, family and social level. The participants carry their findings home to their friends and families, in private and in public. They spread their beliefs, knowledge, skills and visions in socially relevant structures as well as in the media. Thereby, the National Climate Action Week contributes to a broad awareness process. It also supports teachers to implement competence-based learning towards participation and a sense of responsibility for yourself, the community and the environment.

Policy 11.4: Education on a Local Level


The government should initiate local climate education projects open to the public. The aim is to reach people outside of the education system. The people should be able to understand their part in the solution and willing to take action. These local projects should be planned together with experts.
There are already existing platforms which can be used to initiate education projects like local commissions or NGOs. Numerous organizations are already specialized in climate education. Their services can be used for these projects and the State should support these structures. Also, “Climate Assemblies” could be used as a platform to inform people about these kinds of projects and to share the theoretical base useful to the projects.
The Swiss government can relay this to cantons, municipalities and cities on the basis of best practice. As it is not too difficult to adjust the programs, this policy should be implemented in 2021.


The existing projects only function owing to a lot of volunteer work and therefore usually cannot exploit their full potential, as a survey by the ‘Energieforschung Zürich’ in 2018 showed (Moser et al. 2018). It would be desirable to have sufficient partial financing from the federal government with the participation of the municipalities and cities. Similar models already exist in other areas (spatial development, energy (Energie Schweiz 2020) or migration).
The promotion of assemblies does not cost a lot, but it would be advantageous to help organizing the events by financing publications and advertising for mobilization.


Education on the climate crisis will be integrated into established structures (youth centers/community centers). It gives the topic additional importance and enables participatory education. In addition, knowledge and skills can be imparted on a more personal level and together with familiar people.

The measures of Assemblies as well in the Public-Private Partnership as in the institutional way give a huge flow of Information; the climate subject comes in the first row and in the center of the political discussion, not only as an incidental theme. Because of the binding character of the institution, it will be of interest for the media too.
Local projects show opportunities for action by making impactful projects and initiatives in their own region visible and pointing out climate-friendly ways of consumption. Networking among the projects and initiatives is also encouraged. People, who would like to get involved are activated, for example, through a future conference. In the next step, project groups tackle concrete challenges.

Social Compatibility

Acting together has an integrating effect. Additional social groups within society can be empowered to work for the common good. This addresses the increasing social segregation. The question of how poorly integrated minorities could be reached through such projects deserves special attention. Specially funded projects with scientific support would be conceivable here. Climate Assemblies and local projects in general should be available and open for everyone.

Questions and Uncertainties

It is uncertain who (if anyone) can impose compulsory programs/recommendations on community and youth centers.

Policy 11.5: Government Information Campaign


With an information campaign, the government and governmental organizations like FOEN, MeteoSwiss, National Centre for Climate Studies etc. are informing the population about the climate crisis, the need for action and stimulate corresponding behavior, skills and mindsets. The solution outlined is intended to be no less effective than the Climate Action Plan and aims to reduce Swiss net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030.

The campaign is intended to make people understand that we need change if we want to maintain our quality of life in the future. It is intended to show the population in a positive way what the necessary changes mean for them and what enrichments they offer to the individual citizen. In addition to general facts, the ability to act should also be conveyed. In its implementation, the confederation is guided by the findings of educational research.

This measure is to be implemented primarily nationally but also on a cantonal level and locally. The campaign is to be launched immediately, as education is the basis for many other changes and enables a rapid reduction of unnecessary emissions.


It is assumed that the information campaign can be financed from the existing federal campaign budget.


The authors expect the information campaign to have an awakening effect. The information campaign would underline the importance of the problem and improve the level of knowledge and willingness to act in similar ways as the COVID-19 info campaign of the Federal Office of Public Health did. This would enable a well-founded social debate on how to solve the climate crisis. It would also encourage people to take the initiative and look for solutions in their own environment. It would reach a large number of people, thus creating a social dynamic. Measures that would be issued by the federal government would now meet with understanding rather than resistance.

Policy 11.6: Journalism Reflecting the Reality of Problems


Media can help avert a climate catastrophe through creating scientifically substantiated content that reflects the reality of problems. The treatment of the topic should not be reactively orientated towards sensational single events, but should be constructively involved in the political process through a debate on solutions for the crisis. As the fourth power, the media must not limit itself to exposing grievances and naming problems, but should furthermore encourage a social debate in a solution-oriented way to actually improve life. The urgency of the situation must be duly considered. Media should label opinions and scientific facts/estimates accordingly. This policy should be implemented beginning today. Press Council has the controlling function and is responsible for ensuring that the Code of Conduct for Journalists is observed. This code contains the ethical principles for professional journalistic writing. In addition to this code of journalism, there is also the government mandate for SRG/SSR to provide balanced reporting. Furthermore, an independent institution should install a monitoring with a periodical reporting on how the media follow the ethical code.


As the fourth power, the media have a great influence in our society. Especially in the area of education, the media have a great responsibility. Many people who are no longer part of the education system are largely educated by the media. If they trust in the responsibility of the media in relation to the climate crisis, it will be much easier to impart knowledge to the general population outside of educational institutions.

Policy 11.7: Counsellor for Environmental Awareness


With this policy we introduce the role of a counsellor in every Swiss firm. Depending on the size of the company, this role would be taken up by one or more people, who are responsible for the organization of educative training on climate change, stimulating an ongoing discussion on the topic, and to foster the awareness about sustainable behavior.
As the following two policies talk about education in the industry and are in relation to the Industry and Buildings and spatial planning section of this document, the work of the counsellor as well as the environmental training (see policy 11.8) should be based on policies of the chapter Industry and Service Sector as well as policies of the chapter Buildings and Spatial Development. This means that the counsellor should be aware of the measures provided by these policies and should be involved in these projects. They should especially work with those contents that are nearest to the work practice of the employees and can be easily applied by the employees.

In the best case, the counsellor is someone who already works at the company and is interested in taking action for the climate. If the company is not able to find people to take up this role or if none of their current employees has the capacity to do so, the company should employ someone external to take up the role of counsellor. However, the counsellor has to be familiar with company’ products, its processes, and, if possible, its employees. They would need to be given access to all the necessary information about the company and their working method to carry out the task of a counsellor.

The counsellor is responsible for the constant maintenance of climate awareness in the company. First of all, they are responsible for the organization of the environmental training for the employees (see policy 11.8). The counsellor has to make sure that these training sessions are held.

The goal is that all the employees are permanently reminded of the contents of the training they participated in. Sustainable behavior in the workplace as well as in their personal life should be frequently discussed and renewed bringing up new ideas and inputs. This can be achieved with the organization of small discussions or gatherings, the holding of further training with renewed contents or any other ideas and initiatives the counsellor or the employees themselves come up with.

The counsellor should make sure that both the discussion about the ecological behavior of the company as well as about the private behavior of the individual employees is kept alive. The employees should be informed about the actions their company takes to improve their ecological footprint. They should be encouraged to contribute ideas about how resource management and the company's processes can be improved and they should be informed about the company's goals in this area.

A platform should be created for the exchange of the counsellors. It should help the counsellors to connect with each other and discuss the content and form of their consulting. It should allow them to generate new inputs and ideas, and help them with the solution of occurring problems. This platform should exist online, but there should also be the possibility to meet in person.


As the counsellor is employed by the company, it is primarily the company who pays for them. If the company is struggling to come up with the necessary funds, there could be government subsidies for those companies (particularly smaller companies).


Thanks to the counsellor, the awareness of the climate crisis is to be increased, constantly brought to mind and discussed with others. Employees will be educated and hopefully their behavior will become more sustainable. They will find a space to bring in their own opinions and ideas. Through the discussion of their own company’s sustainability, they will become aware of the ecological impact of the company they work for. In the best case, they will act on that awareness and push their employer to act in a more sustainable way.

Social Compatibility

Here it is also debatable if this policy is necessary for every form and size of a company, or if the compulsory training (see Policy: environmental training) is already sufficient. However, the role of the counsellor can of course always be adapted for the individual company, in means of the hours of work they invest or the measures they take.
For further discussions, see questions and uncertainties of the policy environmental training.

Questions and Uncertainties

A big question that poses itself is if there can be found a motivated person in every company, and of course as the task of the counsellor will be interpreted individually, it is hard to say if it will be received well by all the employees.

Policy 11.8: Environmental Training for all Employees and Apprentices


Environmental training for all the employees and apprentices should be held. It is organized by the counsellor and held by an expert or different group of experts. The training should be based and connected to the employee’s field of work. Part of the training should be tailored for different professions and different kinds of employees.

Therefore, the training should be structured in three modules.

  • The first module: basic facts, background of the climate crisis should provide the employees information on the basics and facts about the climate crisis.
  • The second module: private behavior change should give an overview of the behavior changes that individuals can make in their everyday personal life, highlighting for example the big negative impact some products have on the environment and suggesting alternatives.
  • The third module: impact of the professional life should raise awareness on the environmental impact of the company, what it can do to improve the situation, and what the employees can do while carrying out their specific tasks to contribute.

Although those contents should be known to everyone, the lectures should still be adapted to different audiences and consider their educational background and their existing awareness about climate issues. 

The training could contain topics including:

  • Science: Scientific data on climate change and forecasts
  • Mobility: Information about emissions and pollution caused by the main means of transport.
  • Clothing: Information of the ecological impact of the fashion industry (especially fast fashion).
  • Food: information about the environmental impact of some products, as well as solutions to this problem.
  • Investments: Information about investments of the financial community, especially in fossil fuels.
  • Getting active: The counsellor should provide the participants with a list of useful links and organizations they can join if they wish to get more active.

The way of educating the employees should not only be giving them tips and lots of information but also giving them the chance to think for themselves and to come up with their own ideas and solutions. Through that, their motivation to actually use the tips and to act on them will increase. For example, it should be asked in the lectures: What can you do to reduce your daily waste at work? Or: How can you save more energy at home? etc. The training should be structured in a way that stimulates discussion and interaction.


Expected costs: An average employee costs a company about CHF 400 a day, a two-hour training (which means the absence from work) with about eight people would quickly cost about CHF 1000 for a company. The shortfall in production is not figured in. As there are no direct profits for a company and to make this policy more attractive to the business world, a governmental cover of costs would be recommended. As one probably understood, the financing of this policy is problematic. However, as expressed in the section ‘Questions and Uncertainties’, the authors of this chapter believe this policy was to be kept in the chapter because it could be an interesting hint.


The goal of this training would be to raise the employee’s awareness of their own influence on the climate and motivate them to change their behavior and take action. On the one hand it should raise their general awareness about climate change, its importance and the distress it causes. On the other hand, it should provide practical tips on how to specifically change things at the workplace and in their field of work.

Social Compatibility

Positive side effects are obviously the changing of behavior and the increase in climate consciousness of all the employees. However, there could of course always be certain people who react reluctantly and won’t be motivated to change anything. It cannot be taken for granted that employees will enthusiastically participate in such a project, change their personal behavior, and commit to helping their company in becoming more sustainable.
This is why it is important to structure the training in such a way that people get the chance to come up with their own ideas and are not just lectured about what to do. The participants should not have the impression that this training is useless and imposed from the State, but rather see it as an occasion to get involved in the matter of climate change and realize they can contribute themselves to the cause.

Questions and Uncertainties

The question that imposes itself is, naturally, if people will actually take action after receiving the necessary information. The authors of this chapter only provide education, tips and something to think about, we cannot force people to act differently afterwards. This is why we implement practically-based information which is easy and coherent to apply.

Another question is whether to make these policies compulsory or not. Of course, such a policy could be more attractive for a company if it was not implemented by every other company and, at the same time, could be looked at as a strengthening of the image and reputation, as well as becoming a more attractive employer. A label or certificate could be created to increase the companies’ motivation. It would surely be more welcomed by the economy rather than compulsory regulations. Furthermore, it might be received more enthusiastically by the employers as well as the employees if it is based on a voluntary action. However, the authors believe that because of the urgency of the climate crisis these policies should be implemented fast and by every company, not only the ones that are already on an environment friendly path. The authors all reached the consensus that these policies should be looked at as strong recommendations. Whether they are more efficient if made compulsory or on a voluntary-competitive base remains to be discussed.

Policy 11.9: Carbon Conversations


The Carbon Conversations project brings people together to explore climate change and the impact of their personal lives. People within their municipalities meet up and discuss their feelings and practices related to climate change in small groups. The project originated in the UK from researcher Rosemary Randall and has gained international attention. Knowing about climate change is important and education about the drivers of climate change has been covered in other policies in the CAP. Equally important is to discuss and share one’s thoughts and emotions regarding climate change. The evaluation of such initiated projects has shown that participants have changed their behavior after a few sessions. Being able to share feelings of fear, anger, guilt or others related to climate change and realizing that others have the same feelings establishes a common ground and helps participants to take action towards a more sustainable lifestyle. The project is implemented in each municipality, including one session per month, and everyone is welcome to participate. The first sessions are guided with a facilitator and are subsequently self-managed. Each meeting lasts 2 hours. Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts on how climate change relates to their personal lives and what kinds of actions they take or want to take and where they are struggling.


The costs are relatively low, as a community building can be used to facilitate the meetings. There are administrative costs in the beginning to implement the project, to inform the public about it and to cover costs for the facilitation.


Talking about emotions connected to climate change allows participants to acknowledge their fears, uncertainties, frustrations and other feelings. As initiated projects have shown, people tend to take action after such discussions. Participants realize that most people share the same feelings and can help each other and find ideas for a mutual change. This leads to an open, flat hierarchy and collaborative approach to take action against climate change. The project will be monitored through continuous evaluations to measure its impact on the participants.

Social Compatibility

Local communities get empowered to establish a sense of connectedness and belonging. Further, it strengthens a shared learning experience and the motivation to collaborate. The act of listening to other opinions and understanding each other is valued highly. Local initiatives may emerge out of the conversations. Therefore, the project sets the roots for taking action against climate change on multiple levels.

Questions and Uncertainties

As the project is implemented by the municipalities, the content may differ in different places. Participation is voluntary, therefore, the whole population may not be reached. Nevertheless, the authors count on the public interest of willing to share feelings and practices in regard to climate change.