Taiwan injects momentum into the global transition to net-zero emissions

Climate change is a global challenge that every country must respond to as the world experiences drastic changes affecting food production and human health.

According to the International Scientific Consensus, the global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Net-zero refers to the balance of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere and those taken out.

The attempt for net-zero emissions is crucial as climate changes, caused by global heating, will continue to escalate as long as emissions continue.

As global warming is synonymous with cumulative CO2 emissions, this means the planet will keep heating until emissions reach below zero.

This issue is highlighted, among other factors such as the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, at the ongoing 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) or COP27, which began on 6th November and will take place until 18 November 2022 at the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre (SHICC), Egypt.

Taiwan’s efforts to Net-Zero Emissions

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In a statement, Taiwan’s Minister of Environmental Protection Administration, Chang Tzi-Chin said the world has embarked on the transition to net-zero emissions.

“The innovative approaches to international cooperation Agreement call for wide cooperation by all countries to meet global reduction targets, are gradually taking shape,” he said, emphasising the Paris Agreement.

“Taiwan is willing and able to cooperate with international partners to jointly achieve net-zero transitions, mobilise global climate action and ensure a sustainable environment for future generations.”

He remarked that as Taiwan is currently the world’s 21st largest economy, the island has a significant impact on the Indo-Pacific region’s stability and economic growth.

He underlined the semiconductor industry in particular, which plays a crucial role in the global supply chain with its development of new technologies and models, promoting the reduction of the consumption of energy resources during the production process.

“Through ever-evolving semiconductor innovations, the industry has developed numerous smart applications of electronic devices and promoted global energy conservation.”

“Taiwan is carrying out substantial climate actions and vigorously advancing energy transition,” added the Environmental Protection Administration Minister.

Chang shared that as of May 2022, Taiwan’s cumulative installed renewable energy capacity reached 12.3 gigawatts (GW), displaying a significant increase of 60 per cent from 2016.

This feat is notable as the world moves towards further implementation of renewable energy and powering towards a safer future.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts the world’s reliance on renewable energy is set to expand at a much faster rate than prior to the global pandemic, following the IEA’s report that renewable sources of electricity grew at the fastest rate in two decades in 2020.

Additionally, IEA’s latest market update showed that the 2020 statistics marked the largest year-on-year increase in the amount of renewable electricity capacity since 1999, with a rise of 45 per cent amounting to 280 GW.

“That extra power is equal to the total installed capacity of ASEAN, a grouping of 10 dynamic South-East Asian economies,” read the report.

The Environmental Protection Administration Minister shared that as Taiwan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 79 per cent from 2005 to 2020, their greenhouse gas emissions simultaneously fell by 45 per cent.

“(This) demonstrates that (our) economic growth has been decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions.”

Pledging Net-zero emissions by 2050

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Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen announced the island’s goals of net-zero emissions by 2050 during the 2021 Earth Day on 22 April, further demonstrating Taiwan’s efforts towards a safer future.

The following year, in March 2022, the Executive Yuan published Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050 outlining four major transition strategies including energy, industry, lifestyles and society.

“Resting on the twin governance foundations of technology research and development (R&D) and climate legislations, the strategies are supplemented by 12 key sub-strategies,” said Chang.

These include wind and solar power; hydrogen; innovative energy; power systems and energy storage; energy conservation and efficiency; carbon capture, utilisation and storage; carbon-free and electric vehicles; resource recycling and zero waste; natural carbon sinks; green lifestyles; green finance; and just transition.

“By integrating intra-governmental resources, Taiwan will develop a step-by-step action plan to reach its targets,” he added.

To further advance net-zero emissions, Taiwan is focusing on five areas namely sustainable energy; low carbon; circularity; carbon negativity and social science as an amendment is being made to The Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act.

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The act will be renamed the Climate Change Response Act with the following new measures aimed to improve the effectiveness of climate governance and add a chapter on climate change adaptation, among other factors.

“The act will provide economic incentives for emissions reduction, guide low-carbon and green growth, and contribute to completing foundations of national climate legislation and governance,” said the Environmental Protection Administration Minister.

“Taiwan’s long-term vision for 2050 is to make the transition to net-zero emissions the new driving force of national development.”

“By creating competitive, circular, sustainable, resilient, and secure transition strategies and governance foundations, Taiwan will stimulate economic growth, encourage private investment, create green jobs, promote energy independence, and improve social well-being,” he added.

Chang stressed that the path towards transitioning to net-zero emissions is an inescapable collective responsibility of this generation.

“It will only be possible to achieve the target if the international community works together (and) in the spirit of pragmatism and professionalism, Taiwan is willing to make concrete contributions to tackling global climate change.”

He further underlined that even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s resilience and endeavours demonstrate the island’s enormous potential to contribute to the world in exceptionally helpful ways.

“Taiwan should be given equal opportunity to join international cooperation mechanisms in response to climate change.”

“We hope the international community will support Taiwan’s immediate, fair and meaningful inclusion,” said Chang.


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