In Pacific's battle against global greenhouse gas emissions, Taiwan offers help

,

Solomon Star Newspaper, Katowice, Poland

During the recent United Nations climate change summit in Poland (COP24), a  delegation from Taiwan brought a message: We can help. 

Taiwan’s Acting Minister of Environmental Administration, Tsai Hung-Teh, stands before banners promoting its slogan, Taiwain Can Help at the recent climate change summit in Poland / Credit: Ronald Toito'ona

Led by Taiwan’s Acting Minister of Environmental Administration, Tsai Hung-Teh, the “Taiwan Can Help” campaign is focused on working with countries that share an interest in addressing climate change and building support for Taiwan's engagement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As part of the campaign, Hung-Teh held bilateral meetings with several countries attending COP24, got involved with exhibitions and took part in various side events.

The acting minister said Taiwan looks forward to assisting countries with strategic planning and supplying technologies as part of its assistance in the war against global warming.

Taiwan has also offered climate funding to diplomatic allies under its green-finance scheme. 

The self-ruled island nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions fall under its Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, which sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent before 2050.

Hung-Teh said Taiwan has formulated a road map for each year as a result of this act.

"Our road map is to reduce [emissions] two percent by 2020, 10 percent by 2025, and 20 percent by 2030," he said. Taiwan has also set national energy guidelines.

“Renewable energy should be increased to substitute some of the fossil fuels and nuclear power. So that is our goal,” the acting minister said.

Clean and sustainable energy generation

Currently, coal is the largest energy provider in Taiwan at 46.6 percent of the energy mix, followed by natural gas at 34.6 percent, oil at 4.7 percent, nuclear at 8.3 percent and others, including renewables, at 1.2 percent. Under the state's Low-Carbon Roadmap 2050, Taiwan has set a target of reducing coal to 30 percent of the energy mix while increasing natural gas use to 50 percent and renewables to 20 percent by the year 2025.

“So we can use natural gas [as a] substitute for coal in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2030," Hung-Teh said.

“For renewable energy, solar power or wind power generation is one of our goals to 2030,” he added.

A train in Katowice, Poland, is branded with the slogan "Taiwan Can Help" to coincide with the UN's climate change summit / Credit: Ronald Toito'ona

According to Hung-Teh, transportation is another sector in which Taiwan is looking to reduce its emissions under the Greenhouse Reduction and Management Act.

He said Taiwan wants to have a clear roadmap for transportation by the year 2030 that paves the way for all new city buses and government vehicles to be electric by 2030, including motorcycles.

“The population of Taiwan is 23 million, but we will have around 40 million electric motorcycles by 2030. So by 2025, all new motorcycles or scooters sold should be electric," Hung-Teh said.

There are other sectors that Taiwan hopes can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emission under the goals of the act. 

“We have the action guidelines, [and] from that we can ask each sector to reduce their emissions," he said.

Taiwan would like to help the global community combat climate change by sharing this strategic information with other countries, Hung-Teh explained.

“So we are here in Katowice, Poland, to have bilateral meetings with parties from other countries, do exhibitions, and join side events, and we hope Taiwan’s voice can reach the world and every country in the world can realise what Taiwan can do,” Hung-Teh told the Solomon Star in an exclusive interview on December 12th.

Taiwan ranks among other more developed nations as a major coal consumer in electricity generation. Therefore, Hung-Teh said, if Taiwan fails to do its part in the fight to reduce global emissions, it will be seriously questioned by the global community as well as non-government organisations (NGOs) especially environmental groups. 

“We need to do something. We have to reduce some greenhouse gas emissions. So we have our goals to fulfil,” he said.

This is the first time Taiwan has been to any UNFCCC COP preaching the message “Taiwan can help.”

A version of this story originally appeared in print in the Solomon Star newspaper on Dec. 30, 2018.