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Taiwan Keeps Striving to Reduce Carbon Despite Rankings by Global Performance Index

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German watch and Climate Action Network Europe have recently released the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021. Taiwan’s overall performance was still not satisfactory among the 58 nations that were evaluated, but its climate policy ranking has improved from 40th place last year to 27th this year. In addition, in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Taiwan was ranked 46th in the category of climate change among the 180 countries that were evaluated, just behind Japan in the Asian Pacific region.

The 2020 EPI, a ranking index with international credibility, was released jointly by Yale University and Columbia University in June 2020. Taiwan was ranked 46th in the climate change category among the 180 countries that were evaluated, and only 2nd to Japan in the Asia-Pacific. Different international climate change performance indexes use different statistics, evaluation categories, evaluation and calculation methods, hence producing varying results. The EPA respects the outcomes of these indexes and will keep up its efforts on carbon reduction.

The EPA pointed out that German watch was not able to access information on Taiwan from international conventions or the UN system since Taiwan is not a UN member. In 2020 the EPA took the initiative to communicate with German watch and provided it with Taiwan's climate change policies and statistics on greenhouse gas emission for its reference. It resulted in Taiwan's rise of two places in the overall performance ranking and a significant leap in the category of climate policy compared to the year before. However, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea did not fare well in greenhouse gas emission as the rating method was mainly based on the emission per capita and its weight reached as high as 30%. India and China, both with continually rising emission, were ranked 10th and 33rd respectively in this category.

The EPI 2020, published by Yale University and Columbia University in June 2020, evaluated the average annual growth of the emissions of different greenhouse gases from 2008 to 2017 in the category of climate change, where Taiwan was placed among the middle-upper rankings. In addition, Taiwan was at the top with three other nations in decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions. Together, these put Taiwan at the 46th place out of a total 180 evaluated countries, just behind Japan in the Asian Pacific region, for the overall performance.

For the renewable energy rankings, the EPI 2020 referenced the statistics from 2018, the year in which Taiwan was affected by a drought and the hydropower generation decreased by 17.7% (970 million kwh). However, solar energy, one of the main renewable energies promoted in energy transition, grew by 62.6% (1.04 billion kwh) in 2018. Therefore, the share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix remained at 4.6%, the same as that of 2017. This shows Taiwan had seen initial achievements in energy transition.

As the regulations and development environment for renewable energy gradually improved, solar energy output continued to grow by 48% in 2019 (1.3 billion kwh) and wind power generation also grew by 10.9% (190 million kwh) following the completion of the first offshore wind farm. Both helped to bring the share of renewable energy up to 5.6% in 2019.

Climate change is a cross-border issue. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emphasizes the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and individual national conditions, and uses the total global emissions to urge all countries to cut down emissions collectively. Over the years, being outside of international mechanisms, resources or assistance, Taiwan still actively promoted energy transition, pragmatically set the goals for the second phase of emission control, and initiated the revision of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act.

Recently the international community has successively proposed the 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emission targets. Since this is a cross-ministerial and cross-sectorial issue, when the Legislative Yuan reviewed the EPA budget recently, it also made a resolution to request the EPA to invite relevant ministries to jointly investigate the paths and analyze scenarios for Taiwan to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA stated that the administration and relevant ministries have started the assessment for the paths and will continue to collect opinions from all sectors.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, Jan 2021

Ministry of Environment