Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 10 News List

MOEA plans emissions quotas

KYOTO EFFECT The government will establish limits on greenhouse gas emissions for various industries later this year, in keeping with the international trend


The Ministry of Economic Affairs is preparing to hold a series of energy conferences in June to set standards for greenhouse gas emissions and establish quotas for local industries.

The ministry made the announcement on Monday night just ahead of the Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, coming into effect today.

Although Taiwan is not a signatory of the global agreement because it is not a member of the UN, the government will work to keep in line with the international trend toward environmental protection as a citizen of the global community, said Wang Yunn-ming (王運銘), deputy director of the ministry's Bureau of Energy.

According to information from the ministry, Taiwan ranks 22nd on the list of the world's highest carbon dioxide producing countries, accounting for 1 percent of annual industrial emissions worldwide.

The June conference will focus on six major elements of the protocol, including strategies to reduce carbon dioxide, policies for energy, industrial and transportation departments and industries affected.

Two or three months after the conference, the government will establish emissions standards for various industries and set rules for regulating gas emissions among companies, Wang said.

The government's efforts, however, are considered belated by some, and several activists from environmental groups protested nude in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday.

The government last month gave the green light for Chinese Petroleum Corp (中油) to go ahead with a NT$370 billion project to increase production of fuels and chemicals in Yunlin County. It also issued a permit for Formosa Heavy Industries Corp (台塑重工) to build an NT$130 billion steel mill in the same county.

The protesters said the government has sacrificed the environment for economic benefits, as studies shows that the nation's economic growth rate would be cut by 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent per year should the government fully comply with terms of the protocol.

In response, Wang said the protocol will have a long-term and comprehensive effect on Taiwan's economic growth, and as such the government needs more time to lay out a policy.

As for the government's approval of the two Yunlin County investment projects, Wang said the government has requested that the two companies use the most advanced and efficient equipment and production methods in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

"We still need to give priority to the nation's interests while complying with the protocol," he said.

The steel and petrochemical industries, which are identified as pumping out 27 percent and 16 percent of Taiwan's greenhouse gases respectively, said that they have tried to enhance energy efficiency since the protocol was drafted five years ago.

"We have cut emission levels by improving equipment and steelmaking techniques, or have used other materials to replace coal over the last five years," said Wu Sheng-feng (吳聖峰), chief executive of the Taiwan Steel and Iron Industries Association (台灣鋼鐵公會).

Wu said although companies need to pay more to upgrade their equipment, they have also benefitted from reduced production costs.

Jack Hsieh (謝俊雄), executive director of Petrochemical Industry Association of Taiwan (台灣石化公會), also said that since 1997, member companies have been voluntarily trying to reduce energy usage and look for alternative, less polluting, sources of energy, and the results have been quite good.

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