Be­cause Tai­wan is part of Gaia

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS - By Kuo-Yen Wei NOTE: Kuo-Yen Wei is min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tai­wan

Dur­ing the 1970s, Bri­tish scholar James Love­lock put for­ward the Gaia hy­poth­e­sis, which pro­poses that the Earth is a self-reg­u­lat­ing, com­plex sys­tem and that hu­man be­ings con­sti­tute one or­gan of this en­tity. The well-be­ing of the planet is, thus, de­pen­dent on hu­mankind’s abil­ity to achieve an ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance be­tween eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. As a re­spon­si­ble mem­ber of the global vil­lage, Tai­wan has long been com­mit­ted and proac­tive in its ef­forts to tackle cli­mate change and en­sure eco­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity.

In just the past year, the govern­ment has put into law its long-term green­house gas, or GHG, emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­get, which is a tes­ta­ment to Tai­wan’s will­ing­ness to con­trib­ute to global ef­forts to­ward car­bon re­duc­tion. Its mea­sures in this re­gard have been rec­og­nized by Euro­pean na­tions, the United States and other ad­vanced coun­tries.

On July 1, 2015, the govern­ment pro­mul­gated the Green­house Gas Emis­sion Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act, the pur­poses of which are to pro­vide a le­gal foun­da­tion for Tai­wan’s long-term ef­forts to com­bat cli­mate change, re­spond to the call for global mea­sures on car­bon re­duc­tion and pave the way for pol­icy plan­ning and the in­vest­ment of re­sources so as to ex­pe­dite eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion and the de­vel­op­ment of a low-car­bon so­ci­ety. The act em­pow­ers the govern­ment to take ac­tion on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of na­tional mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion strate­gies.

By clearly ar­tic­u­lat­ing Tai­wan’s long-term emis­sions re­duc­tion goal, defin­ing the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, lay­ing out GHG tar­gets over suc­ces­sive five-year pe­ri­ods and pro­vid­ing a le­gal ba­sis for the estab­lish­ment of a GHG re­duc­tion and man­age­ment fund, the law en­ables Tai­wan to pro­gres­sively build its emis­sions-cut­ting ca­pac­ity so it can bet­ter re­spond to cli­mate change and move into a low-car­bon era.

In re­sponse to the Lima Call for Cli­mate Ac­tion of the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, or UNFCCC, Tai­wan has taken the ini­tia­tive to pub­lish its In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tion, or INDC, in ac­cor­dance with its Ba­sic En­vi­ron­ment Act and Green­house Gas Emis­sion Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act. As in­di­cated in its INDC, Tai­wan’s tar­get is to achieve a 50 per­cent re­duc­tion from the busi­ness-as-usual sce­nario by 2030, which is equiv­a­lent to low­er­ing GHG emis­sions to 20 per­cent be­low 2005 lev­els. This is an in­ter­me­di­ary ob­jec­tive to­ward achiev­ing the longterm tar­get stip­u­lated in the Green­house Gas Emis­sion Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act, which is to re­duce emis­sions to 50 per­cent of 2005 lev­els by 2050.

The long-term goal is am­bi­tious yet achiev­able. Tai­wan has al­ready taken sub­stan­tial ac­tions to meet its mit­i­ga­tion com­mit­ments. These in­clude the pro­mul­ga­tion of the Green­house Gas Emis­sion Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act, En­ergy Ad­min­is­tra­tion Act, and Re­new­able En­ergy De­vel­op­ment Act, as well as rel­e­vant poli­cies, projects and pro­grams im­ple­mented in ac­cor­dance with these laws. These mea­sures have been in­tro­duced to help busi­nesses re­duce emis­sions, ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of re­new­able en­ergy and pro­mote sus­tain­able growth. In or­der to main­tain na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness, the govern­ment also plans to par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­na­tional mar­ket mech­a­nisms.

Af­ter years of ef­forts, in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions have ar­rived at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. At the up­com­ing 21st meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the UNFCCC in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, talks are ex­pected to lead to a new cli­mate change agree­ment that will en­com­pass all sig­na­to­ries to the con­ven­tion. The mea­sures that Tai­wan, as a part of Gaia, has thus far en­acted un­der­score its com­mit­ment to meet­ing its obli­ga­tions as a re­spon­si­ble global cit­i­zen, achiev­ing mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion in cli­mate change ac­cords and cre­at­ing a pros­per­ous and sus­tain­able world for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

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