Taiwan ranked 17th in the world and ninth in Asia in terms of its carbon footprint, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said, noting that the Asian ranking also includes Brunei and Middle Eastern countries
Each person in Taiwan, on average, produces 10.89 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, according to the world carbon emissions report published by the International Energy Agency this month. The figure indicated a decline compared with 2008, when it was 11.53 tonnes per person, the agency said.
“Taiwanese produce more carbon emissions than people in Japan, South Korea and mainland China,” the EPA said, commenting on a survey that was released on Tuesday.
Taiwanese have a daily per capita carbon footprint of 19.6kg, almost four times the UN recommendation, it said.
The survey, conducted by Uni-Survey Link Marketing Research and Consulting and commissioned by Mass Mutual Mercuries Life, found that the biggest source of carbon emissions was meat consumption. If one person consumes 432.5g of meat a day, 5.7kg of carbon emissions are produced, accounting for 29 percent of daily carbon emissions, it showed.
Meat consumption was followed by use of air conditioning, which produces 3.4kg of carbon emissions per day, and travel by car, which produces 1.7 kg of carbon emissions per day. People in managerial positions produce 25 percent more carbon emissions than average, mainly because they drive cars, the survey showed.
Although about 80 percent of Taiwanese believe they are environmental protectionists, they have done little to help conserve the environment, the survey found.
More than 90 percent of the respondents said they knew that taking mass transportation or riding bicycles would help reduce carbon emissions, but only 54 percent said they put that into practice.
As much as 83 percent of respondents were aware that reducing the use of air conditioning would help cut carbon emissions, but only 64 percent said they use air conditioning sparingly in the summer. Forty-eight percent said they knew washing clothes by hand was more environmentally friendly than using washing machines, but less than 19 percent said they took such action.
Commenting on the survey, National Taiwan University professor Wang Ya-nan (王亞男) offered some tips for reducing carbon emissions. She suggested cutting back on new clothes by one item, eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat, taking showers rather than baths, taking the stairs rather than elevators, using public transportation instead of driving cars, watch TV less and playing fewer video games.
She also suggested turning off lights and setting the thermostat on air conditioners no lower than 26°C. The survey was conducted between Sept. 26 and Monday last week among people aged 20 to 44. It collected 1,067 valid samples and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
According to statistics from the UN and the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center under the US Department of Energy, Taiwanese produce 2.58 billion tonnes, or 11,580kg per person, of carbon emissions per year. The figure is the highest in Asia, far surpassing China, Japan and South Korea.