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Toward Net Zero Climate Change Response Act Passed After 3 Readings

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On 10 January 2023, the EPA-formulated draft revision of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法) was passed by the Legislative Yuan after three readings under the new name the Climate Change Response Act (氣候變遷因應法). The EPA particularly thanked the entire Legislative Yuan, including President Si-Kun You, the Social Welfare and Environmental Committee, and members from all parties for their support. While the Act itself serves as a basis for more resilient climate legislation, its passage clearly demonstrates Taiwan’s resolve in the pursuit of net-zero emissions.

Legislation of net-zero emission by 2050 with clearly defined responsibilities and responsible authorities

In this amendment, net-zero emission by 2050 has been included in Article 4 as the national reduction goal clearly defined with laws and regulations. This is a reflection of the government’s resolve, compared with the simple declaration in the past. Based on the current practices adopted globally, phased control targets will be set on a five-year basis to gradually achieve carbon reduction.

In light of the fact that reduction and climate change mitigation tasks involve numerous agencies, in Article 8 it clearly states that the Executive Yuan’s National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) is in charge of coordinating, delegating, or integrating the national guidelines on climate change mitigation, as well as decision making regarding cross-departmental tasks. Moreover, the revision has listed all responsibilities and designated various agencies to be responsible for various coordination tasks.

Addition of a just transformation to include all involving parties

Many communities may be affected during implementation of reduction policies or measures. As a result, the revision has deed that all central competent industry authorities are to, regarding respective responsibilities, consult communities affected by the transformation toward net-zero under the principles of respecting human rights and labor forces. All involving ministries are to properly collect opinions via a civil participation mechanism and formulate action plans that aim for a just transformation. Additionally, new additions state that rights of indigenous peoples are to be upheld and incorporated as part of climate change mitigation policies and measures in a comprehensive and community-based manner.

Also, the revision has strengthened information disclosure and civil participation mechanism. For instance, while formulating phased reduction targets, ministries or agencies in charge of organizing public hearings are to announce information such as dates, locations, and methods on the internet, the Government Gazette, newspapers, or other appropriate media outlets 30 days before the hearings are held. And the annual reports on results of greenhouse gas reduction or climate change mitigation projects, compiled and edited by central competent industry authorities, municipalities, city and county governments, are all to be published for public disclosure.

Specific uses for carbon fees with diverse incentives in place

Carbon pricing is a significant reduction strategy, so the amendment has included collection of carbon fees from emission sources. These fees will go to specified uses, such as implementation of reduction projects, development of low-carbon and carbon-negative technologies and industries, subsidies and incentives for investment on reduction technologies in order to facilitate reduction and develop a low-carbon economy.

If achieving assigned reduction goals via measures like switching to low-carbon fuels, adopting carbon-negative emission technologies, increasing energy efficiency, using renewable energies, or improving production processes, targets for carbon fee collection are qualified to propose their own voluntary reduction programs for discounted fee rates. Meanwhile, enterprises are urged to adopt voluntary reduction measures so as to obtain reduction quotas that can be transferred, traded, or auctioned. The combination of diverse economic incentives and collection of carbon fees is certainly able to encourage enterprises to expedite their reduction speeds.

Increase of Taiwan’s resilience via climate mitigation

Under the revision there is now a specific chapter on mitigation, focusing on enhancing Taiwan’s overall capacity of mitigation by building capacities and infrastructure, keeping up with the latest scientific research, and designing implementation framework. In particular, policy making is to align with scientific research. Therefore, the central competent authorities and central technological competent authorities are now in charge of research and development of climate change-related science and impact-mitigating technologies as well as regularly publish relevant reports as references for government offices of all levels to plan out early warning mechanisms and conduct systemic monitoring. Another focus is to establish the framework for mitigation efforts. The central competent industry authorities are to formulate the action plans on mitigation responsibilities for different sectors, the central competent authorities the National Climate Change Mitigation Action Plans (國家氣候變遷調適行動計畫), and the local governments the Climate Change Mitigation Implementation Program (氣候變遷調適執行方案). The purpose is to strengthen and adjust mitigation strategies according to varying circumstances, and annual reports on mitigation results are to be compiled and published to ensure information disclosure and public participation.

With climate change as a common challenge for all nations, on Earth Day 2022 (April 22) President Tsai Ing-wen declared that transformation to net-zero emission by 2050 is a goal not just for the entire world, but Taiwan as well. Following that statement, Premier Su Tseng-chang has also appointed the EPA to proceed with needed revisions on the same day as well as during the NCSD’s 33rd meeting on 30 August 2022. Passage of the revision is a clear display of the EPA’s resolve on carbon reduction and answer to the international community’s call for concrete and expedited reduction actions.

Future prospects

Now that the amendment has been passed, in the next six months relevant sub-laws will be proposed, such as amended operations for inventory and registration, management for audit and certification institutes, collection and rates of carbon fees, voluntary reduction programs, and trade mechanisms for voluntary reduction efforts. The EPA will soon discuss with all sectors and collect opinions and ideas based on the principle of public participation upheld during this revision. Before any sub-laws are formulated, meetings will be organized for industries to fully understand what has been revised as well as plans for future operations and projects, further facilitating sustainable development as Taiwan embarks on the path toward net-zero emissions.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, January 2023

Ministry of Environment