More than 300 participants from the government, civic groups and business sector gathered yesterday at the first National Climate Change Summit organized by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to discuss strategies and actions regarding the challenges presented by climate change.
The summit was held as a result of a promise by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to do so following a request by environmental groups on Earth Day two years ago.
Meetings were held across the nation last year to evaluate discussion topics, with hundreds of issues trimmed down to four topics at this year’s summit.
In his opening address, EPA Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) said climate change has become an urgent challenge to environmental protection around the world.
Taiwan is relatively vulnerable to natural disasters which are exacerbated by climate change, he said, so the government needs to come up with carbon reduction and sustainable development policies to respond to the challenges.
His message invoked different opinions from some civic environmental protection groups, who say that the government is only using “carbon reduction” as a slogan, but not taking action.
The government also continues to consider developing dangerous nuclear power as a solution for carbon reduction, they say.
Data from the Bureau of Energy shows that carbon emissions per capita from fuel combustion last year stood at 11.05 tonnes — 5.98 percent growth compared with 2009 — while the total carbon emissions from fuel combustion grew from 239,526,000 tonnes in 2009 to 254,484,000 tonnes last year.
Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said that Taiwan’s 4.2 percent annual growth in greenhouse-gas emissions in the past 20 years accounted for about 0.65 percent of global emissions.
If the carbon-tax rate currently applied in France (NT$657 per tonne) were to be imposed on Taiwan, it is estimated that we would have to pay up to about NT$142.7 billion in 2025, he said.
Shen said that based on initial analysis of the data, the increased carbon emissions last year resulted from the increased use of power plants that use fossil fuels.