Legislators aim to pass an ambitious bill that would return the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions to pre-2000 levels by making factories clean up or pay, officials said on Tuesday.
The greenhouse reduction act, which stalled after being introduced in the legislature in February last year because of industry opposition, passed the first round of voting in December and is seen moving toward a final vote late this year.
The bill would also authorize the nation’s first carbon dioxide emissions trading system, eventually allowing factories that cannot cut back to buy credits locally or overseas, said Yang Ching-shi (楊慶熙), the director-general of the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) department of supervision evaluation and dispute resolution.
There was no set date for trading to start, Yang said.
The bill was introduced by the Democratic Progressive Party caucus when it was in power and has won overall support from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said he wants the nation’s annual carbon dioxide emissions to fall to 214 million tonnes by 2025 and reach half that by 2050, Yang said.
Without stronger industry regulation, Taiwan will not be able to reach these aims despite various efforts, including stalling some key energy-related projects, Yang said.
“We want to be a member of the global community, so we hope the bill goes through. We will work hard toward this goal, but the challenges are tough,” Yang said.
In 2006, the International Energy Agency ranked Taiwan 22nd in the world for fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions at 270 million tonnes per annum. It was No. 16 in terms of per-capita emissions, higher than Japan and South Korea.
If the bill passes in its strictest form, the government would require factories and vehicles to upgrade emissions-reduction technologies, hitting cash-strapped small to medium-sized companies hardest.
The government would offer expertise but not money for upgrades.
Some KMT lawmakers want the bill softened to avoid further hurting the nation’s already recession-hit economy, a party caucus representative said.