Monday, July 9, 2012

Taiwanese Updates: Taiwan Takes Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Taiwan Takes Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Taiwan has put into effect numerous policies and schemes designed to save energy and reduce carbon emissions. In accordance with the trends and conclusions of the UNFCCC COPs, Taiwan is conducting a full inventory of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is formulating responses to global warming in order to have appropriate GHG mitigation actions in place. Planning out appropriate actions will start with establishing a legal framework. Concrete measures will include reducing emissions within government departments, taking

full advantage of market mechanisms, strengthening public education and promotion, and seeking international cooperation. This multilateral approach will also include efforts to combine resources and manpower from government, industry, and academia to work on emissions reduction and adaptation policies and measures.

The 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC COP 17/CMP 7) was held in Durban in December 2011. A wide variety of decisions were made at the Durban conference, including 19 decisions adopted by COP 17 and 17 decisions adopted by CMP 7. The decisions with regard to subsequent development of climate treaties and the Kyoto Protocol were abundant and diverse, all with far-reaching and positive infl uences. Major items related to resolutions from past negotiations were also implemented, in particular regarding the equity basis established in the 2010 Cancun Agreements.

Carbon Reduction Target: Return to 2005 Level by 2020

On carrying out reduction of GHGs, since 2009 Taiwan has followed up on the content of the Copenhagen Accord, the most important outcome of the COP15 negotiations. In terms of reduction timetables and target setting, Annex I countries are obliged to announce their reduction targets for the period up to 2020; Non-Annex I nations are obliged to put forward Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). Taiwan, as a Non-Annex I nation, will be drawing up NAMAs, but in addition will also announce 2020 emission reduction targets.

Taiwan has been formulating numerous strategies and targets related to energy conservation. These are as follows:

1. Drawing up a blueprint for a low-carbon society in response to the international trend toward developing low-carbon economies.

2. Transforming climate crises into economic opportunities by promoting low-carbon technologies and green employment opportunities.

3. Promoting low-carbon energy technologies and exploring renewable energy resources to lessen the demand for fossil fuels and enhance national energy security.

4. Putting forward NAMAs to demonstrate Taiwan's commitment to international agreements and to avoid the possibility of boycotts against Taiwan interests.

As for Taiwan's GHG emission reduction targets and timetable, in the short term Taiwan aims to bring CO2 emission levels down to 2005 levels by 2020, and in the medium term to lower them further to 2000 levels by 2025. Taiwan has also shown its commitment to the Copenhagen Accord by announcing to the world that by 2020 its total volume of GHG emissions will be at least 30% below Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) business-as-usual (BAU) scenarios.

As the EPA has pointed out, bringing greenhouse gas emissions down to 2005 levels by 2020 will mean that Taiwan's emissions in 2020 will be 45% less than BAU levels, assuming strong economic growth. If the rate of economic growth is low, emissions will still be 39% below BAU. Taiwan's projected reductions in relation to BAU are much better than some of Taiwan's economic competitors in the region (the South Korean projected reduction over BAU is 30%, while Singapore's is 16%) and compare favorably to the IPCC recommendation that developing countries should aim for 15-30% reductions over BAU by 2020.

Strengthening the legal framework for the control of GHGs

In order to establish a legal basis for the control of Taiwan's GHGs, the EPA took steps to prepare the draft of the "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act," which, when passed into law, shall serve as the ground on which various governmental agencies can operate where the control of GHG emissions is concerned. The Act was sent by the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan for review and was on the priority list for the fi rst sitting of the latter's 8th session. It passed the first reading in the Legislative Yuan on 6 April 2012, and was sent to the Legislative Yuan's Social Welfare, Health and Environment Committee for further review.

For the early establishment and understanding of Taiwan's greenhouse gas emissions baseline data, the EPA made use of the "Air Pollution Control Act" and announced on 9 May 2012, that "carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofl uorocarbons, sulfur hexafl uoride and perfl uorinated carbon are all air pollutants," so that industries which carried out early reductions could have clear legal protection. In the future, when the EPA promotes all kinds of greenhouse gas emission control in accordance with the Air Pollution Control Act, it will proceed under the existing framework of the draft of the "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act," and abide by the progress and contents of the Act. Upon the successful completion and legislation of the Act, greenhouse gas management work should become more streamlined.

Carbon reduction is considered a key policy goal of the current administration. Before the implementation of the reduction efforts, however, it is vitally important to determine the carbon emission sources. In addition to announcing that carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and perfluorinated carbon are air pollutants, in order to fully grasp the emission patterns of these pollutants, the EPA prepared the draft of "the third batch of public or private premises that should declare stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions" in accordance with Article 21 of the Air Pollution Control Act, while taking into account international management practices in dealing with the declaration of GHG emissions. The EPA hopes that the draft can serve as a basis for the follow-up management of GHGs and prompt industries to carry out early reduction work. After the draft is announced and passed into law, the EPA expects to control 90% of industrial GHG emissions directly. Besides processing the public announcement of the draft in accordance with the law, the EPA will also hold discussions and public hearings, and invite representatives from industry, academia, and governmental agencies to attend. It is hoped that announcements of the new law can be completed by the fourth quarter of 2012, so that early implementation of the GHG management strategy can be achieved.

Combining governmental and non-governmental forces to strive towards mitigation and adaptation

Echoing this year's Earth Day pledge, "Mobilize the Earth," the EPA urges all citizens to change their lifestyle habits so our society as a whole can realize green living together. Individuals should reduce their carbon consumption, and spread their actions of caring for the earth to family members, businesses, and every corner of society. In collaboration with The Society of Wilderness, the EPA held the "Earth Hour Lights Off" activity from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on 31 March 2012, which attracted enthusiastic participation and warm responses from many civilian groups and individuals.

To lend support to the 2012 "Earth Day," the EPA also held an Earth Day carnival event on 21 April 2012. The event was entitled "2012 Low carbon green life, giving earth as much oxygen as it needs." Through the appeal and support of celebrities, people's awareness was raised that Earth Day is not just an annual environmental festival, but a key that opens the door to sustainable development. People need only to make some small changes and think ahead, they can end up "loving themselves" while "loving the earth" at the same time.

Integrating governmental and civilian resources, Taiwan is undergoing carbon reduction and adapting to climate change from every stratum of society. In order to collect opinions on how to cope with climate change from domestic NGOs, officials, experts and academics, the EPA, starting from October 2011, held four "World Café" sessions in the northern, central, southern, and eastern parts of Taiwan. These activities centered on the theme of "Taiwan 20XX--What should Taiwan prepare for in the face of climate change" and expanded into related issues of regions, resources, health and biodiversity. In all of the "World Café" sessions, the heads of each assigned table guided group members to enter into topic discussions, allowing participants to personally discuss the importance of climate change, thereby garnering consensus in a bottom up manner. In addition, the EPA held the opening session of the "National Conference on Climate Change" on 19 May 2012.

Modeled on the "World Café" format, the conference upheld the principles of "public participation," "effective communication" and the core principles of "establishing partnerships, initiating dialogues, participating jointly, and facing consequences together," in the hope that key issues and specific suggestions could be collected from the participants. These specific suggestions will become the topics for discussion in the sum-up conference on climate change, which will be held on 5-6 June 2012. President Ma Ying-jeou will personally attend on 6 June and listen to the summary reports from various civilian groups. In his inauguration speech delivered on 20 May 2012, President Ma specifi cally mentioned that "creating a green, low-carbon environment" is one of the fi ve pillars for national development. In line with his remarks, Taiwan's government will encourage the private sector to expand its investments in green industry, green buildings, and green production, making green industries become a bright spot in promoting employment and growth, and allowing Taiwan to become a "low carbon green island" step by step. Policywise, the Taiwan government will be keen to create the driving force of carbon reduction and the promotion of investment in green energy industries, while implementing the "pay by user" principle, to further create a win-win situation for consumers and manufacturers. To conclude, President Ma vowed to adhere to the tenets of sustainable development for our next generation, leaving them with a clear sky, clean air, abundant water resources, and verdant mountains, forests, streams, wetlands, and oceans.


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