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Taiwan

Brief description:

ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE - POLICY AND PROGRESS

Background

The island state of Taiwan is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol but it has urged other world nations to accept its participation in the UNFCCC and IPCC, in order to relieve economic pressure from the high cost of carbon reduction strategies. In 2009, UN member states agreed to accept Taiwan as an official observer in the World Health Assembly (WHA), a milestone that has buoyed hopes for its eventual inclusion in the UNFCCC. The government has given a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases emissions to 2008 levels by 2020, and to 2000 levels by 2025.

Emissions

Taiwan’s main exports are manufactured items, such as computer equipment, textiles, basic metals, equipment, plastic and rubber products and vehicles, which all contribute to GHG emissions. 

As Taiwan is not a participant in the UNFCCC, emissions data has been gathered from an official 2009 report by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration (TEPA). This report states that an initial national communication was submitted in 2002 but the UNFCCC has no such listing.

Taiwan’s total GHG emissions in 2008 were 294.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, excluding CO2 absorption by land-use change and forestry. This represented a 120% increase on 1990 levels. Energy-related CO2 emissions accounted for 91.2% of the total figure. Emissions from fossil fuel combustion reduced by 4.4% in the same year, which is thought to be due to the global recession, changes to oil and electricity prices and government policies on carbon reduction. The energy and industrial sectors accounted for 60.68% of the country's total energy consumption in 2008, with transport using 12.79%, domestic usage accounting for 11.53% and only 0.99% being used by the agricultural sector.

Issues and challenges

Taiwan has been independent for fifty years but is still regarded by its neighbour China as a rebel nation. Tensions between the two countries have eased in recent years and they signed a historic trade pact in 2010, but military threats remain tangible.

Taiwan is an industrialised nation with a population of 23 million, which releases around three times more greenhouse gases per capita than the world average. Industrialisation has impacted on the environment, and further economic growth must now be sustainable if it is to achieve its stated emissions reductions.

The Taipei Times reported in September 2008 on a study of Taiwan's 230 power plants, which showed cumulative emissions of 137Mt of CO2 over the previous year – with Taichung power plant accounting for a third of Taiwan’s total annual emissions. The survey, by Carbon Monitoring for Action, ranked the Taichung and Mailiao coal-fired power plants first and fifth globally, respectively, in terms of their CO2 emissions.

Having the natural environment of a sub-tropical island, Taiwan is highly vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change. Efforts are now being made to produce detailed climate change scenarios. The country has already experienced the impact of climate change first-hand. A typhoon in 2009 caused unprecedented devastation through floods, landslides and other weather-related disasters. As global temperatures rise, storms are expected to increase in number and intensity. 

The island nation will also be under the threats from sea level rise, severe heatwaves, droughts and water shortages. This is likely to impact on human health, habitats and biodiversity and affect agricultural production. Coastal inundation would displace communities, who might then face difficulties with relocation and social adaptation. A study of annual mean temperatures between 1910 and 2002 shows a marked upward trend.

Without international support, the island is concerned that it cannot take effective mitigative or adaptive measures.

Government commitments and policy

In the last thirty years, Taiwan has brought in 417 environmental laws and regulations, including the Basic Environment Act of 2002 which promotes environmental protection. It has complied with certain principles of UN environmental conventions and protocols, including pursuing the Bali Action Plan that was adopted at the 2007 UN climate change conference in Bali.

Since 2008, Taiwan’s government claims to be giving a high priority to energy conservation, industrial sustainability, carbon reduction and responses to climate change. It continues to seek international support for its climate change goals. The government’s Sustainable Energy Policy (SEP) focuses on the use of clean energy sources and an increase in energy efficiency. Its goal is to achieve a 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2015. There is a stipulation to increase low-carbon energy’s share of the market from 40% now to 50% in 2025. It also vows to adopt energy supply and demand practices that lower CO2 and pollution emissions.  Its framework (download from here) for a low-carbon society includes CCS as part of energy sector reforms, as well as a move towards renewable and nuclear energies as zero-carbon options. The SEP has a commitment to support the GHG Reduction Act, see below.

Taiwan has set up a GHG Emissions Registry that encourages industry to log emissions and enables the government to manage them. The voluntary scheme will allow users to see the results of reduction strategies in future years. While the TEPA 2009 report lays out clear paths to energy efficiencies and low carbon processes, there is no similarly defined route to the deployment of CCS technologies to reduce Taiwan’s CO2 emissions.

There has been a strong drive to engage with the public regarding low-carbon lifestyles and the EPA issued guidelines in August 2008 to encourage greener practices at home and in schools, colleges and workplaces.

Regulatory framework

There are no specific legal frameworks for CCS. TEPA is pushing for the adoption of a GHG Reduction Act, which it claims will provide a legal basis for implementing plans to reduce emissions through to 2050. A draft was passed in early 2008 but awaits final adoption. The bill will establish a national emissions target, and will focus on energy efficiency, penalties for non-compliance and the implementation of a cap-and-trade scheme. There is no specific mention of CCS. 

CCS initiatives and funding

In March 2011, TEPA launched a national CCS alliance as part government efforts to reduce GHG emissions. A key pilot programme is planned which aims to capture and storage around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 in underground geological formations. The programme is expected to begin in 2015, with wide-scale use of CCS planned by 2020.

The alliance includes Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy, the Council for Economic Planning and Development, the National Science Council, CPC Corporation and Taiwan Power Co. However, full support from the private sector is needed for the alliance to realise its ambitions.

In October 2011, three of Taiwan’s leading state-run enterprises launched efforts to develop CCS technologies under a government-initiated programme. The strategic alliance between Taiwan Power Co, CPC Corp and China Steel Corp - formed in late 2010 - plans to complete a pilot project to store 10,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2015 and to begin commercial operations by 2020.

Taiwan Power Co plans a trial carbon capture programme at its Taichung coal-fired station. The utility, which produced 83Mt of CO2 in 2008, intends to capture 10,000 tonnes of CO2 from the plant by 2014. The captured CO2 will injected below the seabed off Taiwan’s west coast for permanent storage.

CSC is cooperating with four universities to develop a chemical absorption capturing technology and an oxy-fuel combustion pilot testing programme. CPC is using oil and gas exploration and production data and technologies to initiate sequestration technology. Taipei Times article here.

Storage potential

The government has stated that Taiwan’s land-based and offshore geology offers the potential to develop multiple CCS technologies. Research to date has suggested a CO2 storage capacity of 2.8 billion and 113.5 billion tonnes, respectively.

International co-operation

Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy is in charge of developing and implementing energy policies. It is responsible for rolling out the Sustainable Energy Policy, see above, which includes a pledge to introduce clean coal and CCS technologies through harnessing international support in order to reduce CO2 emissions at power generating facilities.

The Asia Coalition for Climate and Energy (ACCE) is a joint industry agency with members from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. It was set up to facilitate the deployment of sustainable fossil energy and cutting-edge renewable energies. ACCE is also a stakeholder of the international Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and the Zero Emissions Platform (ZEP). The coalition recently met in Beijing, China, in August 2011.

Taiwan’s state-owned power utility is a participating member of the Global CCS Institute.

More information

Mitigating climate change, EPA report

Taiwan Environmental Protection Agency

Eco Business on Taiwan’s CCS alliance, March 2011

Taiwan Today article, March 2011

Eco Business on Taiwan Power Co CCS plans, November 2010




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