Q&A

 

What is Taiwan’s basic policy toward UNFCCC?

Climate change has the potential to cause severe impacts on the living environment. It is the major issue that all members of the international community are currently concerned about, and it has a deep relevance to Taiwan, as well as to the industries, on attaining sustainable development. The island attributes of Taiwan are what makes it most vulnerable as it faces the impacts of global climate change. According to the current rate of sea-level rise estimated by IPCC, Taiwan’s land area will most definitely be impacted. In addition to the threats to survival, if Taiwan cannot participate in the Kyoto mechanisms established by the UNFCCC to relieve economic pressure from the high cost of carbon reduction, Taiwan’s industries will lose international competitiveness as well as the incentives to move towards a green industrial structure and low-carbon society.

The current mechanisms and action response to global climate change of the UNFCCC will deeply influence the development of the economy, trade, energy, environmental protection for generations to come and will lead to form a new global disposition and market. Taiwan should not be absent at this crucial juncture and should instead actively seek for an appropriate status in the global community to enable it to maintain its national interest, security and industrial international competitiveness. On September 21, 2009, Taiwan officially announced its intention to seek official participation in UN Specialized Agencies with priority target set on the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" (UNFCCC). Currently, the relevant government ministries have listed the target as priority task, developing specific approaches and practices and also appealing for support from the international community. It is expected that the joint efforts from all sectors on the implementation of Taiwan’s participation in the UNFCCC will substantially enhance Taiwan's international participation and contributions.

What is the model for Taiwan's participation in the UNFCCC?

Currently, Taiwan wishes to participate in the UNFCCC as an observer using a similar model to its participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA). Since assuming power in 2008, Taiwan’s new administration has set energy conservation, carbon reduction and response to climate change as the major policy and endeavors to obtain international support from diplomatic accesses with proactive engagement in pragmatic and constructive dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.  In earlier 2009, UN member states for the first time resolved to accept Taiwan as an official observer in the World Health Assembly (WHA). This milestone decision offered Taiwan great encouragement and also an expectation of support from the international community for further substantial participation in the UNFCCC through this unprecedented positive gesture.

With the easing of tension cross the Taiwan Strait, how helpful is Taiwan's participation in international environmental activities?

Since assuming power in 2008, Taiwan’s administration adopted a more flexible foreign policy and China policy (cross-Taiwan Strait) in order to create a broader space for development. Under the "flexible diplomacy" of the government, the relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has become eased, developing mutual trust through joint participation in international activities from both sides, thereby reducing misunderstanding and preventing conflict. Currently the major guidelines of foreign affairs by the Government are “dignity, autonomy, pragmatism and flexibility" meaning the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China (Mainland China) do not mutually deny each other in the international community, with mutual respect, exerting its best, and allocating the diplomatic resources on solving mutual issues of the international participation.

The relations between the people and governments of both sides are expected to grow steadily in the future.  The new government of the ROC on Taiwan wishes that during the current rapprochement, the space of the ROC and the PRC in the international community to carry out activities can be mutually respected and that both sides can meet their responsibilities as members of the global village either separately or through cooperation, in order to contribute to the international community.

What are our unique vulnerabilities?

We know the painful consequences of climate change through firsthand experiences. Typhoon Morakot which swept through southern Taiwan in August 2009 was an acute case in point. It brought unprecedented devastation which caused more than 700 deaths and countless other losses through the floods, landslides and other weather-related calamities as the tropical storm of unprecedented intensity dumped close to three meters of rainfalls at some locations over the span of just three days. Many fear this was just a prelude to worse things to come. As the world warms up, not only will storms increase in intensity, but this island, which is the only home we have, will also be increasingly under the threats of sea level rise, severe heat waves, droughts and water shortages, weather-driven diseases and epidemics as well as the loss of biodiversity made up of precious species such as the black-faced spoonbill and the Formosan landlocked salmon, among others. Our needs for international support and assistance have never been greater.

What are our commitments to the environment?

The people of Taiwan firmly believe we deserve these favorable considerations. Over the past thirty years, we have strived to build a systematic environmental protection framework that is both enlightened and comprehensive. During this time, we have enacted and implemented 417 environmental laws and regulations, including the Basic Law of the Environment, and have adopted the principles of all of UN’s environmental conventions and protocols for compliance. Plans are also now underway to elevate environmental conservation work to the Ministry level in our government with full integration of the environment, natural resources and global environment considerations.

What assistance will Taiwan need from international community before participating in the UNFCCC?

Taiwan’s absence in the UNFCCC has created a noticeable gap in the global efforts in combating climate change. To ensure success of combating global warming by the international community, Taiwan should not be excluded. We are fully aware of our obligations on the global environmental issues and are willing to assume our long-term on-going commitments to environmental sustainability efforts in sharing reduction obligations to avoid emissions from Taiwan turning into a global carbon leakage.

In order to fulfill the obligations and efforts of a member of the global village, Taiwan’s experience in implementing energy conservation and carbon reduction work can provide valuable references for many countries and organizations that are making efforts to improve economic development and welfare of the people.

Based on these, we urge all countries in the world, in consideration of protection of the living condition for human co-existence, to provide us with the opportunity to fairly  participate in all mechanisms, meetings and activities in the prevention of potential global environmental disasters, as well as jointly combat global warming with the international community in addition to our active participation in greenhouse gas reduction and capacity building activities. We look forward to the international community’s understanding of Taiwan's situation, as Taiwan is integrated into the framework of global response to climate change for its genuine contributions.

What can Taiwan contribute?

The people of Taiwan are always hard at work, and we believe we have a lot to contribute to the world community. From the depth of underdevelopment in the middle of the 20th century, we have overcome numerous challenges to build an economy that is known today for its innovations and technologies. However, the process of industrialization also brought severe pressure to our environment and ecosystems. What Taiwan has experienced and learned, both from its successes and the difficulties, will likely be experienced by the many developing economies of the world that are themselves working hard to improve their economy. In this sense, we have a lot to share with them, both in economic development and environmental management, and to assist them in their journey. We are confident we will be a very positive factor in any UN organization we are accepted to join.

What will be the impact to Taiwan if it is unable to participate in the UNFCCC and the negotiation in the post-Kyoto framework?

Currently, Taiwan is not a signatory party to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and has no obligation in carbon reduction. Yet the negotiation on reduction targets in the post-Kyoto framework to be implemented after 2012, mainly on Annex I countries, would also expand to cover the Annex I countries to the member of "Economic Development and Cooperation Organization (OECD) ", such as Korea, Singapore, Mexico, etc. with same economic level and competitive on trading for reduction obligation. In case the obligation is imposing on these countries, it would constitute reduction pressure on Taiwan. Moreover, according to WTO provisions on trade barriers, the “exclusion clause”, based on environmental considerations, taxes would be imposed on import and export goods. Taiwan, an export-oriented trading country, is bound to suffer with imposed carbon tax requested by the Parties to the Convention with substantial carbon reduction requirement in order to maintain the balance of international trade. If Taiwan’s export commodities are unable to meet the export specifications, there will be an unavoidable impact on trade in the future. As French President Nicolas Sarkozy openly recommended to the EU on October 27, 2007, all non-signatory parties to the Kyoto Protocol should be imposed import duties; the European Council resolved on the inclusion of the aviation industry into the "European Union Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) " on October 27, 2008 without objection which regulates all aircraft flying to or from Europe are to be included in the system beginning 2012. The European Union appears to have begun a trial punishment mechanism related to mandatory carbon reduction.  If Taiwan fails to participate in the relevant regulations of "post-Kyoto Protocol", the impact on related industries will be inevitable in the future.

What are the challenges of Taiwan in meeting the post-Kyoto period?

Considering that the greenhouse gases are not regional air pollutants but a global environmental problem that causes greenhouse effect, and the emission will not cause local hazards, the effective strategy of carbon reduction should be taken into account with the global perspective and the economic costs. Therefore, wherever reduction is made, it can be helpful to the global response to climate change, and the international community allows the establishment of cross-border or cross-regional carbon trading market for achieving substantial effect of global greenhouse gas emission reduction through cost-effective way. The Government actively promotes participation in the UNFCCC and negotiations during the post-Kyoto period, in the hopes that we can have favorable conditions through reduction negotiations allaying the impacts to the industry for adopting best cost-effective way in assisting emission sources in fulfilling commitments to environmental impact assessments as well as to maintain industrial competitiveness. While the emission sources fulfilling the voluntary reduction responsibility within Taiwan, which is in precedence over domestic off-set projects. For those emission sources still need to operate oversea the off-set project the Government will assist them gaining same amount of domestic certification needed for off-set through the oversea Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) certification the emission sources have, to secure the CDM investments. Taiwan Government is progressively designing the mechanism integration with oversea carbon Markey and carbon trading platform for domestic carbon off-set approval.

What is Taiwan’s voluntary reduction target?

The Executive Yuan has announced the national emission reduction target in the "Framework of Taiwan's Sustainable Energy Policy". The national carbon dioxide emission returns to the 2008 level during 2016 and 2020, to the 2000 level by 2025, 2025, and then to half the 2000 level by 2050 to limit temperature increase to below 2°C and achieve stabilization at 450 ppm or less . Taiwan should be an entity capable to assume reduction responsibility of the Convention and be extended to the relative rights.  Based on the implementation of the principle of universality of the Convention on participation, we have wished the Convention can offer us occasion for our contribution to the international community, collaboration with other countries, and sharing knowledge, technological experience and adaptation to resources, furthermore, to make specific contributions in combating global warming jointly with the international community on the post-Kyoto period based on the "common but differentiated responsibility" reduction principle of the Convention in following the " Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) ". In the future it will come through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill, Renewable Energy Development Act and other law amendments to implement the reduction targets stepwise.

What was GHG emission volume of Taiwan in 2008?

Taiwan GHG emissions in 2008 is 294.6 MTCO2 eq (LUCF absorption excluded), CO2 emissions increases by 120% from 1990 to 2008, and 91.2% is from energy related CO2 emissions. If total CO2 emissions from fossil fuels combustion are allocated to the economic sector, then the energy industry sector would account for only 6.3% of total CO2 emissions, the industrial sector 53.5%, the transportation sector 13.7%, and the commercial/residential sector 18.4% in 2008. The 1990-2008 period shows higher growth in commerce and residential sectors, followed by industry, energy conversion and transportation sectors. The growth of emissions in transportation and commercial/residential sectors is similar to that of more developed and industrialized economies. The CO2 emissions from fossil fuels combustion in 2008 show a decrease by 4.4% first time. Three main reasons contribute to a negative growth between 2007 and 2008. The first may be that global financial crisis causes economic recession. Next is that the energy consumption went down after the prices of oil and electricity were rationalized. The third one is that the government is vigorously conducting the relative policies and measures on energy saving and carbon reduction.

What is the strategy in response to climate change in Taiwan?

The formulation of national climate change response strategy must proceed from different directions. In addition to keep close attention to the Convention on the international controls and following resolutions, it should also implement on the domestic capability buildings on land development planning, energy supply security, industrial policy development, fiscal tax reform, financial market transactions, technological innovation, scientific research and investigation, natural disaster early warning and control, the impact adaptation, total emission quantity control, and education on carbon reduction, covering all the operation of government ministries. The Executive Yuan has announced that "energy conservation and carbon reduction" as a focus of administration in the future policy. Therefore the policies of all ministries develop should make specific response instead of routine, administrative matters as it used to be. Therefore, through multi-ministries cooperations to integrate "energy conservation and carbon reduction" into policy planning will achieve the creation of an intergenerational win-win-win solution for energy, environment and economy with full account on economic development, environmental protection and social justice. In the future the national adaptation policy framework in responding to environmental change will be developed as the major basis for developing adaptation strategy in response to climate change, and the adaptation measures on climate impact will become measure of policy in response to climate change in the future.

What are current laws and regulations relevant to greenhouse gas emissions in Taiwan?

At the same time as the first anniversary of Kyoto Protocol, February 2006, the Environmental Protection Administration of the Executive Yuan proposed the first "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill (Draft)" among developing countries. The bill is currently under review in the Legislature and will serve as an important legal basis for our response to climate change. Externally, we can declare our willing to assume the responsibility to jointly protect the Earth's environment. Internally, the bill will become the legal basis for implementing greenhouse gas reduction mechanism, model and tools for collaboration among ministries to reduce carbon emission which will lead to international recognition of our efforts. If combining with the legislations of “Renewable Energy Development Act”, “Energy Tax Bill” and the “Energy Management Law” amendment, the legal foundation for carbon reduction will be completed and gradual carbon reduction through economic incentives in Taiwan can become a reality. Currently, the legislation of the "Renewable Energy Development Act" and "Energy Management Law" amendment has succeeded.

How will Taiwan implement the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill?

Through experience and practices from international community, Taiwan is currently implementing the "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act" legislation with four reduction of greenhouse gas management mechanisms, including voluntary inventory registering and reduction, mandatory inventory auditing, registering and voluntary reduction, emission performance standards and offset, and total volume control and offset for early investment on carbon reduction from industries. Meanwhile, in response to the environmental impact assessment of major development programs, we are requiring the development to implement trade-off on the additional reduction, through early voluntary reduction program or oversea reduction trade-off as supporting measures. The capability building on greenhouse gas auditing and registering, voluntary reduction, trading and offset are Taiwan’s current measures in response to global greenhouse gas emissions reduction. This is also in coping with the "Bali Action Plan" on the principle of Measurable, Reportable, and Verifiable (MRV) in building the management mechanism in line with international standards.

What is the content of Taiwan’s sustainable energy policy and its implementation?

Sustainable energy development should take full account of "energy security", "economic development" and "Environmental Protection" to meet the development needs of future generations. Since Taiwan lacks natural resources, limited environmental load, the sustainable energy policy should focus on "efficient" use of limited resources, the development of environmentally friendly "clean" energy, and ensuring "stable" energy supply in order to create intergenerational vision of win-win-win solution for energy, environment and economy. The basic principles of the sustainable energy policy will build on "high efficiency", "high value", "low emissions" and "low dependency", a two highs and two lows energy consumption pattern and energy supply system. The framework of sustainable energy policy implementation will be started from clean source on the energy supply side and conservation on the energy demand side.

What is the content of Taiwan’s Sustainable Green Energy Industry Proposal?

The Cabinet approved the program developed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on April 23, 2009 selecting solar photovoltaic, LED lighting, wind power, biofuels, hydrogen energy and fuel cells, Energy Information and Communication, and electric vehicles as the focus industry. The government will invest 25.0 billion NT dollars to implement renewable energy and energy conservation as facility and subsidy, and 20 billion NT dollars on research and development in the following five years. It is expected to stimulate 200 billion NT private investments based on the estimation on the scale of production. Through the growth of demands on Global Green Energy, the selected industries, and supporting with the industry characteristics and technology potential, it is expected to further promote the intense development of related domestic industries.

How does Taiwan manage the industrial greenhouse gas emissions?

In July, 2007, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration officially initiated the "National Greenhouse Gas Registry Platform" covering all energy related businesses and industries. For the purpose of keeping in line with international standards and achieving a tiered management, we shall refer to the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, and the ISO 14064/65 certification mechanism to design the system in meeting our needs. The emission sources will implement the auditing through the assistance from the advisory body and register the results on the accounts in the national registry after the verification from the verification party. The advisory body and the verification party need to be recognized with a third verification by the international community or the branches in Taiwan of the international certification body and licensed by the competent authority or the commission of the certification bodies in Taiwan to run the business.

What observation and research on climate change has Taiwan implemented?

The researches in Taiwan are focused on ongoing observation and database accumulation. In the field of climate change, most researches are categorized as the integration of interdisciplinary researches, including meteorological research, the impacts of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, water resources, health, and ecology.
In February 2008, a memorandum of international program cooperation on greenhouse gases monitoring for the Pacific were endorsed between Taiwan and the European Union IAGO (In-Service Aircraft for Global Observing System) in Belgium. The Pacific Ocean Observing project will be implemented through operating international aircraft from China Airlines, and cargo vessels, from Evergreen Marine Corporation, assisting in the collection of trace gases above the Pacific Ocean for observation and analysis of air pollutants on long distance migrating routes as the base for developing air pollutant control policy. Evergreen "Ever Ultra" has been the world's first commercial vessel participating in monitoring the greenhouse gas concentrations in the Pacific region, and completed the observation mission in July 2009, bringing back the first cross-regional greenhouse gas observation data in the world for the Tran-Pacific greenhouse gases concentration observatory project. In the future, the data will be further verified through data collection from Taiwan's Formosa Satellite-III, assisting in the establishment of a set of greenhouse gas three-dimensional distribution above the Pacific region for the global community, facilitating a better understanding of the issue of global warming, which became an important milestone in the history of climate observations.

What are Early Actions from Taiwan Industries?

On December 26, 2005, seven major Taiwanese industry associations (iron and steel, petrochemicals, cement, synthetic fibers, pulp and paper, textile dying and preparation, electrical and electronics) jointly signed the Voluntary Agreement on Energy Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emission Reductions with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and the Chinese National Federation of Industries.

In coping with the global and national actions, Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA), a major organization of domestic electronic industries, joined the voluntary commitment with the World Semiconductor Council on reducing PFCs emission in 1999 to make the efforts. On the voluntary agreement, TSIA committed to reduce PFCs emissions to 10% below 1998 level by 2010. Furthermore, TSIA also signed a cooperation memorandum on PFC reduction with Taiwan EPA in 2005.

Another organization, the TFT-LCD Association (TTLA) signed a cooperation memorandum on PFC reduction with the Taiwan EPA in 2004. According to the memorandum, TTLA members will reduce PFCs emissions below the 2003 level by 2010. The 2006 IPCC guidelines referred materials from a paper published by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration in 2004 describing emission scenario and calculation methodology of SF6 in the TFT-LCD processing. It was the first time domestic materials were adopted by the United Nation System. In December 2008, a letter from the UNFCCC Secretariat to the Industrial Technology Research Institute requested ITRI to provide the SF6 emissions information of Taiwan’s optoelectronics industry for CDM methodologies for inspection.

How will Taiwan raise national awareness of carbon reduction and promotion through national actions?

The greenhouse gas reduction is closely related to the people's daily living, like personal consuming habits, transports, and individual emissions trade-off and so on, all in relevance and contribution to national greenhouse gas emissions. The Taiwan Environmental Administration officially initiated the EcoLife Taiwan Net in 2008, providing the public with Internet access to endorse the “Ten-Step Declaration on carbon reduction” and registering daily performance. The blog function is also provided on the web for sharing experience in energy conservation and carbon reduction. Successive implementations of national reduction actions will be continued as we continue to promote endorsement of the declaration and for green procurement to be adopted in people lives, change their consumption habits and lead to a low-carbon society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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