In recent years, the world has been stepping up its efforts to advocate for net-zero emissions. Taiwan, like many other countries, has been planning a practical pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and every agency has begun to assess and design possible pathways under the coordination of the Executive Yuan. It is necessary to modify the original 2050 reduction goals in order to expedite carbon emissions with the rest of the world and reach net zero by capping temperature increase at 1.5°C. Therefore, the EPA is currently amending relevant regulations and promoting programs like climate change mitigations and actions for low-carbon, sustainable homeland.
To strengthen climate actions, the National Development Council (NDC), along with other agencies, announced Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050 on 30 March 2022. With energy, industries, lifestyle, and society as focuses for future transformation, technological research and development as well as climate legislation will be the two major governing foundations. Relevant agencies are responsible to promote 12 key strategies, including wind and solar energy, hydrogen power, forward-looking energies, electricity systems and energy storage, energy conservation, carbon capture and storage, electrification and decarbonization for transportation vehicles, resource recycling and zero waste, natural carbon sinks, net-zero emissions and green lifestyle, green financing, and just transformations. The aim is to transform to and build a sustainable society of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The EPA will particularly target resource recycling and zero waste of the 12 key strategies. It hopes to build a generation of resource recycling and sustainability with zero waste, and also promote net-zero emissions and green lifestyle, via product design, resource reuse, industry connections, and technological innovations. Transformation to net-zero emissions by 2050 is a goal that requires consolidated efforts of the entire country as it pertains to global competition and environmental sustainability, which are the new driving forces of Taiwan’s long-term development.
(1) Implementation of the first stage of carbon controls
Carbon emission in 2020 is 1.88% less than that of the baseline year (2005), close to the goal set for the first stage of carbon controls (2% decrease). The emission factor of carbon, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for producing 1 kwh of electricity, had dropped from 0.529kg in 2005 to 0.502kg in 2020.
(2) Revision of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act
Aiming to step up Taiwan’s efforts toward carbon reduction, keep up with a low-carbon economy, and construct a resilient homeland, the Executive Yuan has renamed the Greenhouse Gas and Management Act to Climate Change Response Act (). Revisions also included various goals and measures to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, such as upgrading and intensifying climate governance, adding articles specifically for climate mitigation, and strengthening emission controls as well as incentive mechanisms to encourage reductions. Others included collecting carbon fees for designated uses, enhancing management mechanism for carbon footprints and also product labeling, and promoting carbon storage through capture.
(3) Management strategies for carbon reductions
1. Promoting inventory, inspection and registration for carbon emissions
The first group of emission sources required to undergo inspection and registration target include those in the power generation, steel manufacturing, oil refinery, cement, semiconductor, and thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) sectors. They also include factories/plants that annually produce at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Statistics show that a total of 287 sources in 2020 were required to register their emission amounts for inspection in 2021. In total, they had emitted 223 million metric tons of CO2e, approximately 78% of Taiwan’s total emissions.
Meanwhile, the EPA has announced newly added targets. Manufacturers with factories/plants whose direct emissions from burning fossil fuels and indirect emissions from electricity usage, when combined, reach 25,000 metric tons of CO2e or more, are required to undergo inspection and registration starting 2023.
On 19 May 2022, the EPA announced the revised directives for taking inventory of carbon emissions. It later held three meetings to explain relevant revised regulations to help small- and medium-sized enterprises understand and conduct inventory. Labor associations of all industries were asked to notify members to attend so that they can learn about inventory of carbon emissions and ascertain their own emissions based on inspection results and cut down emissions accordingly.
Moreover, the EPA is looking to train over 150 inspectors, in hopes of increasing Taiwan’s capacity in carbon inspection, with two training sessions already conducted to train inspectors needed in 2022. The aim is to expand Taiwan’s current pool of carbon inspectors as an early response to adjustment of carbon regulations and policies and market needs.
2. Facilitating offset programs to encourage voluntary reductions
The Regulations for Managing Carbon Offset Programs is in place to facilitate voluntary carbon reductions and offset programs. So far there are 91 offset programs whose proposals have been approved and registered. These diverse reduction measures range from renewable energy generation, replacement of heavy oil with natural gas, switch to variable-frequency motors, increase of efficiency of air-compression systems, adoption of high-efficiency lights and chillers, recycling of methane from livestock farms’ wastewater to generate power, and replacement of diesel buses with electric ones. Offset quotas can be applied according to reduced emissions actually achieved in these approved and registered programs. To date, 23.78 million metric tons of CO2e in total have been issued as offset credits.
3. Utilizing the environmental impact assessment (EIA) mechanism to curb emission increases from development activities
The principle of offsets for increased emissions states that credits are required to be obtained to offset increased emissions after the best available technologies are adopted in the case of construction or expansion of manufacturing zones. Credits are to offset at least 10% of annual increased emissions, and offsets are to be conducted consecutively for ten years. Offsets are mandatory in the following scenarios – developers applying to newly develop, or developed size accumulated has reached 50 hectares or more; setup of new factories/plants; and constructions of, or projects to add facilities in coal-fired or cogeneration power plants that do not use natural gas. As of the end of July 2022, there had been seven development projects having passed the EIA that were required to obtain credits to offset increased emissions based on the principle above.
As replacement of every old motorcycle with an electric one will result in an emission reduction of 2.3 metric tons of CO2e, the EPA has set up a platform for selling and purchasing reduction benefits as offset credits are generated from these replacements. Applications to procure credits have been filed by Hsinchu Science Park Bureau (HSPB) and Hsinchu County Environmental Bureau, credits from replacing 100,000 motorcycles within two years for the former and those from replacing 400 motorcycles at NT$2,000/motorcycle for the latter. As of 20 September 2022, a total of 8,460 applications to purchase credits had been filed on the platform.
(4) Actions of climate change mitigation and low-carbon, sustainable homeland
The National Climate Change Mitigation Action Plan (2018-2022), approved by the Executive Yuan on September 2019, focuses on eight areas: capability building and disasters, survival infrastructure, water resources, land use, oceans and coasts, energy supplies and industries, agricultural production and biodiversity, and health. Through cross-agency collaboration, the government can enhance its basic ability to respond to climate change on the whole and integrate and strengthen mitigation results.
The report on implementing the National Climate Change Mitigation Action Plan in 2021 particularly compiled mitigation accomplishments on four key disaster and risk issues. which are extreme precipitation, heat, drought, and rising sea levels. The three teams in charge of environmental quality, accountable consumption and production, and climate actions under the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) held their first team meetings in 2022. The mitigation accomplishments were presented in these meetings before being fully disclosed online for a public inquiry.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, October 2022
- Ministry of Environment