A novel discharge circuit that reduces significantly the amount of energy conducted by the switch in a TEA CO2 laser is reported. We demonstrate this circuit on a working multijoule TEA CO2 laser in which the switch is shown to conduct typically only 5% of the total input pulse energy. The laser has worked reliably in gas mixtures that place stringent demands on the discharge and circuit. It has produced an output of 7 J at an efficiency of 9.6% using a CO2:N2:He (1:1:4) gas mixture at atmospheric pressure and further using a helium-free gas mixture (CO 2:N2:H2 at 400 mbar) it has produced a maximum efficiency of 14.6% for an output of 7.8 J. The great simplicity and high efficiency of the new discharge circuit allow it to be incorporated in the existing laser designs with minimal modifications.