Thu, Feb 17, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet vows to cut back on greenhouse emissions

POLLUTION As the Kyoto Protocol took effect yesterday, the Cabinet announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels comparable to those of 2000 by 2020

By Ko Shu-ling and Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Although Taiwan is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, which took effect yesterday, the Executive Yuan said that it hoped to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions to the level they were at in 2000 by 2020.

Taiwan is ranked 22nd on the global list of greenhouse gas producers, releasing over 2.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air each year, or about 1 percent of the global total. Although the pact was designed to regulate 38 of the world's industrialized countries, excluding Taiwan, Cabinet Spokesman Chou Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said that the nation feels obligated to safeguard sustainable development as a responsible member of the global village.

"We're calling on the international community to take note of the efforts we make to protect the international environment and let us be a member of the treaty," he said.

According to Yeh Chun-jung (葉俊榮), chairman of the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, the government will set its own goal and try to achieve it step by step between 2012 and 2020.

Yeh, who is also the executive officer of the Cabinet's task force for dealing with climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, said that the nation's interests and the feasibility of the goals need to be taken into account.

In addition to setting up the task force, Yeh said that the government will take a three-pronged approach to tackle the problem.

First, the government will enact a law to regulate the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, the government will take steps to increase the nation's percentage of renewable energy. Currently, recyclable energy makes up only 3 percent of the nation's total energy sources.

Yeh said that the government hopes to boost this figure to 10 percent by 2012, while increasing the efficiency of energy consumption and encouraging the industrial sector to focus more on carbon-free or service-oriented businesses.

Third, the government is mulling a plan to control the number of motor vehicles on the roads and having polluters shoulder more social responsibility.

While the task force has not yet proposed any concrete plan, Yeh said that if a "carbon-generating tax" were to be implemented, it would not be aimed at generating tax revenues to fill government coffers, but instead would be used as a means to compel polluters to pay for the damage they inflict on the environment.

He yesterday reiterated the government's resolve to build a nuclear-free homeland.

"There won't be any more nuclear power plants in the country, because this is the consensus that was reached between the ruling and opposition parties. It's only a matter of time before the nation's three nuclear power plants will be phased out," he said.

Yeh dismissed speculation that the steps to combat emissions would lead to higher utility fees.

"Greenhouse gas emission does affect the electricity and water fees, but it's not the sole and absolute factor," he said.

A legal basis for the control of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to be created in June, when the National Energy Conference is held, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) head Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) said yesterday.

EPA statistics indicate that the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in Taiwan increased by nearly 70 percent between 1990 and 2000, when carbon dioxide emissions increased from 160 million tonnes to 272 million tonnes. If no action is taken, the EPA predicts that carbon dioxide emissions will exceed 665 million tonnes in 2020.

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