Sun, Oct 28, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan must save energy, reuse carbon: Sinica head

CLIMATE CHANGE:Academia Sinica would present a road map toward ‘deep decarbonization’ by the end of the year and is researching carbon conversion, president Liao said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

To mitigate global warming, the nation must stop wasting electricity and work harder to develop technologies for capture and reuse of carbon dioxide, Academia Sinica President James Liao (廖俊智) said yesterday in a speech in Taipei on climate change.

Liao, who assumed the post in 2016, is an expert on metabolic and synthetic biology, and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Part of the institution’s annual open house event yesterday, Liao’s speech, titled “Climate Changes and Sustainability: Bottom of the Ninth” attracted more than 500 attendees, including senior-high school students.

If temperatures continue to rise, Taiwan’s summer might start as early as May and last until November, and local winters could disappear by the end of the century, Liao said.

While fewer typhoons have struck Taiwan directly, each has become more powerful and brings heavier rainfall, he said.

“Although we cannot phase out fossil fuels immediately, we should recycle carbon dioxide while emitting it,” making it possible to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and net negative emissions after that, he said, citing suggestions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this month.

Each Taiwanese consumes an average of 10,632 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, higher than the average in South Korea and Japan, so the public has room to improve its energy consumption habits, he said.

In addition to developing renewable energy, the most critical goal in the short term is to push society to save energy and cut carbon emissions, which should no longer be treated as empty slogans, Liao said.

In the coming decade, the nation should develop energy storage and heat recycling techniques, complete the construction of “smart” electricity grids and start collecting carbon taxes, he said.

To achieve carbon neutrality in the long run, Taiwan should adopt electric vehicles by 2040 and use carbon dioxide conversion technology, he said, adding that the institute’s researchers have been experimenting with chemical methods to reuse carbon emissions.

Responding to an attendee’s question about his view on nuclear energy, Liao said: “Nuclear power is an option only if the public can reach a consensus about where to store used nuclear fuel rods and waste.”

Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Environmental Changes has completed a white paper that suggests a road map for the nation’s deep decarbonization, but it would take another month or two for the institution’s researchers to review it before it can be forwarded to authorities, Liao added.

Liao said would meet with British Special Representative for Climate Change Nick Bridge, who is to speak at a climate change forum in Taipei on Wednesday, to discuss possible collaboration between Taiwan and the UK.

Climate action is gaining momentum across the world and more experts are visiting Taiwan seeking collaboration, he said, adding that Bridge’s predecessor, David King, also visited Taiwan last year.

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