New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Chen Jia-hua (陳椒華) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) yesterday urged the government to set a goal for the nation to become carbon neutral by 2050 to bring it in line with the international community.
The two legislators made the call at a news conference organized by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) in response to the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) proposed amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法).
However, the agency said that the goal of reducing carbon emissions to 50 percent of 2005 levels remains unchanged, upsetting many environmental groups.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
TEPU president Liu Jyh-jian (劉志堅) said that the EU, Japan and South Korea have set a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050, while China is targeting 2060 to become carbon neutral.
In contrast, Taiwan is still aiming to cut carbon emissions by half of 2005 levels, which is an outdated goal and would hurt Taiwan’s economic status, he said.
The EPA has become more open-minded now when it comes to formulating a national climate policy, Hung said.
“However, government officials should tackle climate issues from the strategic perspective of international politics,” he said.
Many countries now treat environmental issues as economic issues, and Taiwan could in the future be asked to pay more customs taxes if it has trouble curbing carbon emissions, he added.
Large international brands would ask manufacturers in their supply chains to use green energy or set a “zero emission” policy, he said.
“It is better that we start reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions now instead of doing nothing. Keeping high-
carbon emission assembly lines and products would open up Taiwan to penalties by other countries,” Hung said, adding that he would continue to persuade his DPP colleagues and government officials to follow international trends in setting an emissions policy.
Although the government plans to upgrade the EPA to a ministry, Hung said that the organizational restructuring would have to ensure that the new ministry is capable of addressing issues caused by climate change.
Chen said the nation has indeed made progress in pushing for the use of renewable energy in the past few years, but added that she has not seen the government make comparable efforts in reducing the reliance on high-energy consuming industries.
Multiple studies show that carbon emissions in central and southern Taiwan have increased, rather than decreased, she said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) needs to see that reducing carbon emissions is not only about increasing the use of renewable energy, but also entails actively addressing issues caused by existing high-carbon emission industries, she said.
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