Road to Paris
2015 is a crucial year in the global effort to tackle climate change as the international community prepares for a new global climate deal at a United Nations meeting in Paris this December. The aim of the Paris meeting is to design and agree a robust and dynamic deal capable of restricting the global temperature rise below 2°C compared to pre-industrial times and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The EU and its Member States submitted their proposed contribution to the new agreement on 6 March 2015, among the first to do so, committing to a legally binding target of at least a 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.
The EU and its Member States call on Taiwan to demonstrate its political will to join the global effort to tackling climate change by making a voluntary contribution that incorporates a stringent GHG reduction target.
The EU has long been a world leader in combating climate change and is on course to achieve its legally binding targets for 2020 : reduce GHG emissions by 20% compared to the 1990 level, grow renewables so they account for 20% of energy generation, and improve energy efficiency by 20%. Europe’s experience shows that economic growth and GHG reduction are not only compatible but also mutually beneficial. Between 1990 and 2012 the EU’s GDP grew more than 44%, while GHG emissions decreased by 18%. Europe’s renewable energy industry alone generates an annual turnover of 129 billion Euros and has created more than one million jobs.
How does the EU do it you may ask ? Firstly, the need for action on climate change in Europe is widely recognised and supported by Member States’ governments, industries and the public. Not only do nine in ten Europeans consider climate change to be a serious problem but two thirds of the people also believe that transforming to a green economy by reducing GHG emissions and investing in low carbon technologies will boost economic activity and reduce unemployment .
Secondly, the EU has set out a long term comprehensive strategy to set Europe on its path to low carbon economy. This is supported by a range of policy instruments, enabling legislation, capital funding, R&D programmes and public outreach efforts. Europe also boasts the world’s largest carbon market, the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Energy efficiency requirements also drive efforts to reduce energy demand across a range of sectors including transport, manufacturing, etc. The EU can not only become more resource efficient and less dependent on fossil fuel imports but it is positioning itself as a leading clean technology exporter and service provider.
Taiwanese people, like Europeans, view climate change as a crucial issue that needs to be urgently addressed. According to a Climate Change and Energy survey carried out by the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy on 26 April 2015 90.7% of the Taiwanese public believe that climate change is happening and 89.2% support the government to pass the beleaguered GHG reduction bill. Taiwan’s GHG emissions are disproportionately high at 10.95 tonnes per capita, placing Taiwan 20th in the world. Almost 90% of emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas).
With a coherent strategy and political will to deliver effective policy action, the most cost-effective solutions to minimise GHG emissions in Taiwan through renewable energy development and energy efficiency can be achieved. Taiwan is a world leader in renewable energy technology innovation and is well positioned to move towards a green economy. Taiwan is the world’s second largest producer of solar cells, with an annual turnover of around 200 billion NTD, although 98% of cells are for export. Taiwan also has some of the world’s best conditions for locating wind farms. However, Taiwan’s emphasis on technology innovation has come ahead of domestic deployment with renewable energy only accounting for 1.9% of Taiwan’s energy supply in 2013.
A solid foundation is essential and there is cause for renewed optimism on this front in Taiwan. Not only is the latest version of the GHG reduction bill being discussed in the Legislative Yuan but Taiwan EPA Minister Wei has announced that Taiwan will make a voluntary contribution ahead of the Paris meeting. With the current drop in global energy prices and Taiwan enjoying some of the world’s lowest electricity prices now is the time to drive domestic growth in the low carbon sector to achieve the complementary aims of tackling climate change, increasing energy security and maintaining economic competitiveness.
Whilst Parties are on the road to Paris, Taiwan should take meaningful domestic action and commit to a stringent and legally binding GHG reduction target to provide itself with a platform to move forwards to tackle climate change. The EU and its Member States have made significant progress over the last 25 years in combating climate change and realising the related benefits for society and the economy. We are as committed as ever to this and are ready to share best practice to address one of the defining challenges of our generation.
Albin Mauritz, Director, Austrian Office Taipei
Caroline Vermeulen, Director, Belgian Office, Taipei
Chris Wood, Representative, British Office
Vaclav Jilek, Representative, Czech Economic and Cultural Office
Linda Jakobsen, Director, The Trade Council of Denmark, Taipei
Teppo Turkki, Representative, Finpro Taiwan, Finland’s Trade and Innovation Office
Olivier Richard, Director, French Office in Taipei
Martin Eberts, Director General, German Institute Taipei
Levente Székely, Representative, Hungarian Trade Office
Donato Scioscioli, Representative, Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office
Hugues Mignot, Director, Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office, Taipei
Hans Fortuin, Representative, Netherlands Trade and Investment Office
Michal Kováč, Representative, Slovak Economic and Cultural Office, Taipei
Borja Rengifo, Director General, Spanish Chamber of Commerce
Henrik Persson, Representative, Business Sweden – The Swedish Trade and Invest Council
Maciej Gaca, Director General, Warsaw Trade Office
Frederic Laplanche, Head of Office, European Economic and Trade Office