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EPA to Become Ministry of Environment with Passage of Organic Act

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Taiwan’s environmental authority reached a new milestone on 9 May 2023 as the Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of various legislations regarding the organization of the Ministry of Environment and its third-level agencies (institutes). The regulations were promulgated by President Tsai Ing-wen on 24 May. Now the EPA is to transform into the Ministry of Environment in conjunction with the establishment of four third-level agencies, the Climate Change Administration, Resource Circulation Administration, Environmental Management Administration, and Chemicals Administration. The National Environmental Research Academy will be established as well. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus has also raised a resolution, proposing to establish a Natural Resources Integrated Governance Task Force under the jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan in the future.

EPA Minister Tzi-Chin Chang: Striving to launch operation of the Ministry of Environment by the end of the year

In 2022, the Executive Yuan made the decision to change the EPA into the Ministry of Environment, aiming to achieve the policy goals such as net-zero emissions by 2050, resource circulation, and toxic waste controls. On 9 May, the Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of the Ministry of Environment Organic Act (環境部組織法) as well as the draft legislation concerning the organization of four administrations and one institute. The regulations were promulgated by President Tsai on 24 May.

Minister Tzi-Chin Chang expressed his excitement about witnessing the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and is determined to officially launch the ministry and its four administrations and one institute by the end of this year. He further explained that when the EPA was first founded in 1987, he was transferred from Taipei City Environmental Protection Bureau to the EPA, and for him the formation the Ministry of Environment is a moment of great excitement. Due to the restructuring of existing units to form the Ministry of Environment, it is essential that all ongoing programs continue onward seamlessly. Therefore, efforts will be made to officially launch operations of the Ministry of Environment and its four administrations and one institute before the end of this year.

In response to future increase in workload and personnel, the most urgent task at hand is to expand the office space. As for the personnel increase, the EPA currently has 743 official staff members and will be adding another 264 after the establishment of the ministry, bringing the total to 1,007. Among them, the official staff of the Climate Change Administration will go from 26 to 98.

Five third-level agencies will be set up under the ministry. The Climate Change Administration will be responsible for greenhouse gas reduction and climate change adaptation. The Resource Circulation Administration will handle at-source waste reduction, recycling, clearance, and disposal. The Chemicals Administration will be in charge of prevention and response to toxic and chemical substance disasters, as well as chemical substance control. The Environmental Management Administration will focus on environmental law enforcement and remediation of soil and groundwater pollution. The National Environmental Research Academy will oversee environmental research, testing, and management and personnel training regarding certification organizations.

After the establishment of the ministry, the existing Environmental Analysis Laboratory and Environmental Professionals Training Institute will be combined to become the National Environmental Research Academy. In the initial stage, it will join forces with other research institutions such as the Academia Sinica, the Central Weather Bureau, the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction, and various universities and institutes according to their respective expertise in different fields. This collaboration aims to expand the research scopes and ensure that their research reports align with national regulatory reports.

Five prospects of the Ministry of Environment

Facing the international trend of net-zero emissions and global environmental changes, the government has shifted its focus from “natural resources management to "actively responding to the global environmental situation and creating transformation opportunities for Taiwan." The efforts mainly concern integrating responsibilities and authorities, expanding its operations, and systematically addressing the five major environmental issues of climate change, resource circulation, chemical substances control, environmental quality management, and strengthening of environmental research. In the future, the Ministry of Environment envisions achieving the goals listed below.

1. The Ministry of Environment will actively respond to climate change by: strengthening the formulation, promotion, and implementation of national policies; implementing the supervision and evaluation of phased control targets; responding to international carbon border taxes and the decarbonization trend of supply chains; accelerating carbon pricing, strengthening the carbon inventory system and seeking decarbonization technologies and strategies, and; mitigating international pressure by assisting domestic industrial transformation.

2. The Ministry of Environment will implement circular economy policies, waste reduction, and reuse by coordinating management powers and responsibilities of all ministries, levying funds for resource circulation, recovering energy from waste, and inventorying and analyzing resources in waste. It will promote new measures such as circular procurement, sustainable consumption, and environment-friendly design of products to achieve the reduced use of primary raw materials and improve resource use efficiencies so as to reduce environmental loading and gradually advance towards the goals of sustainable resource circulation and zero waste.

3. The Ministry of Environment will expand the scope of chemical substance management to cover all chemical substances handled in Taiwan to achieve the goals of “extending source management to borders and reducing breakpoints to deter violations,” “integrating disaster prevention resources and strengthening responses to reduce disaster losses,” “fully convey hazard information to reduce exposure to health risks,” and “transform to sustainable and non-toxic use of resources to align management with international conventions.”

4. The Ministry of Environment will strengthen environmental law enforcement using digital technologies; use smart technologies and the internet to handle general waste in diverse ways, and; improve environmental cleanliness and sanitation management. It will sustainably manage soil and groundwater resources through improving the certification system for surveying and remediation technologies and increase soil and groundwater regeneration and carbon sink capacities. It will strengthen pollution source control to build low-risk living environments and develop healthy and sustainable communities.

5. The Ministry of Environment will promote research on climate change and resource circulation, improve environmental risk assessment and management technologies, facilitate net zero transformation and cultivate professional talent, and work with research resources nationwide to establish an environmental think tank to provide long-term and stable support for overall national environmental policies.

Natural Resource Integration and Governance Task Force to be set up under the Executive Yuan

While the Organic Act of the Ministry of Environment (環境部組織法) was passed on its third reading, the DPP Caucus proposed the establishment of a Natural Resource Integration and Governance Task Force under the Executive Yuan to address controversies surrounding natural resource management raised by civic organizations and the public. The task force will include relevant competent authorities to formulate overarching governance directions. Ministers without Portfolio will be assigned to run the task force and convene meetings, and appropriate staff units will assist in planning and implementation. The task force will hold regular meetings to strengthen interdepartmental coordination, facilitating the integrated and sustainable management of natural resources.

The EPA stated that after its restructuring into the Ministry of Environment, it will be able to align with international carbon reduction efforts, coordinate responsibilities of various ministries for resource recycling, and establish disposal facilities for industrial waste. Policies related to green economy and sustainable development will be carried out more effectively. Also, through continuous environmental education and advocacy, the EPA aims to raise public awareness about the importance of environmental protection, so that all of society can jointly work towards net-zero emissions by 2050 and preserve beautiful living environments for future generations.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, April 2023
Ministry of Environment