Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Officials riled by Taiwan’s ranking in climate report

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmental officials defended Taiwan’s record yesterday after the nation was ranked behind Japan and South Korea in an influential climate change performance report that evaluates emissions trends, levels and climate policy.

This marked the third year that Taiwan has been included under the name “Taiwan/China” in the annual performance report published by Germanwatch, an environmental organization, and Climate Action Network Europe.

Officials said the report used outdated information and imprecise monitoring methods.

“The conclusions reached in the report draws on Taiwan’s information from the IEA [International Energy Agengy], which is from 2007,” Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) told a press briefing last night. “[2007] was the worst year for us in terms of carbon emissions increases … that was accurately reflected in the report.”

The government has been active in pushing for sustainable energy and large-scale renewable development over the past two years and it should be reflected in next year’s report, he said.

Information from the EPA shows that the nation’s total carbon emissions decreased 4.4 percent over the last year from 267 million tonnes to 257 million tonnes. Meanwhile per capita emissions have fallen to 11.17 tonnes from 11.73 tonnes.

Officials also lamented that government policy only accounted for a small percentage in the report’s ranking. The report weighed “Emissions trends” as 50 percent, “Emissions Levels” as 30 percent and “Climate Policy” 20 percent in reaching its conclusions.

The report — which looked at 57 countries that accounted for more than 90 percent of total global carbon emissions, last year ranked Taiwan 32nd in the overall category and third in its regional category.

This year, however, the ranking dropped 15 places, landing Taiwan at a dismal 47th, meanwhile its regional ranking was in the bottom three.

Germanwatch said Taiwan had the greatest decline in rankings in this year’s report, adding that this was mostly due to its lack of initiatives to curb emissions increases in the energy sector in comparison with other countries.

“Taiwan received particularly low scores due to its poor emissions trends in relation to other nations,” Jan Burck, a senior adviser in charge of releasing the report at Germanwatch, told the Taipei Times.

“Its problems are primarily a lack of solutions for curbing emissions in the electricity sector as well as a lack of planning for renewable energy,” he said.

Burck said the figures reflect information gathered from the IEA as well as reports from educational institutes in Taiwan. He stressed that the rankings were made in comparison with other countries, rather than individual performance.

Asked if Taiwan had a chance of improvement in future reports, Burck expressed optimism and said, “Based on what we’ve heard in consultation with Taiwanese experts, there are many positive signs and rankings could go up next year.”

“Policy has been getting better — [recent] environmental laws could [lead] to the development of a sustainable energy framework,” he said.

Taiwan accounts for about 1 percent of total carbon emissions despite being home to only 0.3 percent of the world’s population.

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