Graham Watson, a member of the European Parliament, called on Taiwan to take the lead in Asia by introducing a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme (ETS) as a policy instrument to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and combat the threat of climate change.
"One of the things ... we very much hope is that Taiwan will follow our lead and introduce an emissions trading scheme," Watson said in response to an inquiry by the Taipei Times during his visit in Taiwan.
The EU put an ETS in place in 2005 to help the body meet the EU's emissions reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol of 8 percent below 1990 levels.
Under the ETS, large emitters of carbon dioxide within the EU must monitor and report their carbon dioxide emissions annually, and they are obliged every year to give back emissions allowances to the government equal to their carbon dioxide emissions for that year.
"You have quite a serious [carbon dioxide] problem here in Taiwan. The average emissions per head are listed at the same level as those in Western Europe, including emissions from investments in China, and they are much higher," Watson said.
Starting on Dec. 3, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the parent body overseeing the Kyoto Protocol, will hold its annual conference in Bali, Indonesia, as a starting point of the negotiation process to formulate a post-Kyoto 2012 climate policy.
"It would be very helpful for everything we are trying to achieve at Bali if Taiwan would take the lead in Asia in responsible environmental practice through the ETS concept, and through attempts to cut down on energy use whether in building design or the use of solar power or whatever," Watson said.
While the draft reduction act and other necessary legal frameworks and rules for such a trading market are pending legislative approval, James Ma (馬志昂), general-manager of the emissions trading platform department at the Taiwan Emission Trading Association (TETA), said the creation of a market for trading carbon dioxide emissions was a "stated policy."
TETA was established under the auspices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2005, when it launched a carbon dioxide trade simulation system for individuals and businesses interested in how the market operates.
"Because of the country's diplomatic situation, the government adopted a conservative stance in this regard, but it is local businesses that will suffer for failing to meet international norms," Ma said.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament recently adopted a resolution on a strategy for the Bali Conference, bringing the issue of nuclear energy as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the debate.
Asked to interpret the resolution, Watson said that rather than supporting nuclear energy, the resolution recognized that nuclear energy should be part of the energy mix.
"We recognized that if we want to meet our Kyoto target, we can not do so without some contribution from nuclear energy, and that doesn't mean that we are abandoning other sources of energy to go down the nuclear route," Watson said.
He said that the different EU countries have very various takes on nuclear energy.
Karin Resetarits, a member of parliament representing Austria, said that the biggest argument against increasing the percentage of nuclear energy is that nuclear waste still cannot be handled properly.