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Taiwan Earth Day: Focus on emissions

TAIPEI, Taiwan, April 22 (UPI) -- Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to find a balance between economic development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ma said that last year Taiwan reduced its carbon emissions to the 2005 level, Taiwan's Central News Agency reports. That level was reached ahead of the earlier target of reducing carbon emissions to the 2008 level by 2020, Ma said, citing the combined efforts of the government, business groups and citizens.

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The president's remarks came during a meeting with the country's environmental groups Thursday as part of a series of events in Taiwan to mark Earth Day.

Reminding the group that the government had designated 2010 as the year for promoting energy conservation and carbon reduction, the president said that the country's public agencies have more than 30 initiatives to achieve those goals.

At an Environmental Protection Administration Earth Day event, Premier Wu Den-yih announced a low-carbon homeland program that includes developing six low-carbon cities throughout Taiwan by 2014, with four low-carbon living areas completed by 2020. He said the government's initiative "epitomizes our determination to march toward a low-carbon society."

Wu urged large carbon emitters, such as state-owned Taiwan Power Co., to do more to reduce carbon emissions.

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Taiwan is the world's 22nd-largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for about 1 percent of total global emissions last year, notes Eugene Chien, chairman of Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy. But in terms of per capita carbon emissions, it ranks 17th.

Chien, in a TIST-sponsored Earth Day event, said Taiwan must step up its energy conservation and carbon reduction campaign or risk possible sanctions from the rest of the world. He called for the government to adjust development policies for industries that emit high levels of carbon and to encourage state-run enterprises to cut carbon emissions.

During his Earth Day speech, Vice Premier Eric Liluan Chu said the government has organized a 10-year carbon reduction plan that encompasses 10 strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 210 million tons by 2020 through an industrial policy overhaul, power generation and transportation reforms and environmental education.

Because Taiwan has little the in the way of natural resources and its industrial sector accounts for more than 50 percent of annual gross domestic product, it would cost Taiwan between $3.1 billion to $4.65 billion annually to met the International Energy Agency's recommendation that countries spend up to 0.5 percent of GDP to keep greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million by 2020, Yang Jih-chang, a senior adviser to the Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, said last December.

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