Swiss climate activists lament election of oil lobbyist

BERLIN (AP) — Environmentalists in Switzerland criticized the election Wednesday of a top car and oil industry lobbyist to the country’s new government, calling it a “disaster for climate policy.”

Lawmakers picked Albert Roesti of the nationalist Swiss People’s Party as one of two new members of the Cabinet, or Federal Council.

The election was necessary following the retirement of two long-serving members in the seven-seat government, which traditionally includes politicians from all the country’s major parties.

Roesti served until recently as president of Switzerland’s fuel importers’ association, Swissoil. He remains president of Auto Schweiz, the country’s car importers’ association. As part of his lobbying work, Roesti successfully campaigned against a bill designed to reduce the Alpine nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“In the middle of the climate crisis, the Swiss Parliament has elected the top car and oil lobbyist to the Federal Council,” the group Climate Strike said in a statement. “This is a disaster not just for Switzerland, but our entire generation.”

The group called on other members of the government not to let Roesti head the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Transport. The post became vacant with the retirement of Simonetta Sommaruga, one of two departing ministers.

Roesti didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. But in a news conference following his election, he said he planned to step down from all of his lobbying positions by the end of the year.

Also elected to the council Wednesday was Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, a member of the left-leaning Social Democrats.

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