The Debate | opinion
Taiwan is already making progress in reducing emissions. Imagine what it could achieve if included in global climate discussions.
The world has started the transition to net zero emissions. The innovative approaches to international cooperation highlighted in the Paris Agreement – which calls for broad cooperation by all countries to meet global reduction targets – are beginning to take shape. Taiwan is willing and able to work with international partners to jointly achieve net-zero transition, mobilize global climate action, and ensure a sustainable environment for future generations.
As the 21st largest economy in the world, Taiwan has an important impact on economic prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Taiwan’s semiconductor industry in particular occupies a key position in international supply chains. Industry is actively reducing the consumption of energy resources in its production processes by developing new technologies and new models. Through constantly developing semiconductor innovations, it has developed numerous intelligent applications of electronic devices and promoted global energy saving.
Taiwan is implementing extensive climate protection measures and vigorously pushing ahead with its energy transition. By May 2022, the cumulative installed renewable energy capacity had reached 12.3 GW, a significant increase of 60 percent from 2016. From 2005 to 2020, Taiwan’s GDP grew by 79 percent. During the same period, the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions fell by 45 percent, showing that economic growth has been decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions.
On April 22, 2021—Earth Day—President Tsai Ing-wen announced Taiwan’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. In March 2022, the Executive Yuan released Taiwan’s Road to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. The roadmap outlines four key transition strategies in energy, industry, lifestyle and society. Based on the two governance principles of technology research and development (R&D) and climate legislation, the strategies are supplemented by 12 central sub-strategies. These are wind and solar energy; Hydrogen; innovative energy; power systems and energy storage; energy saving and efficiency; carbon capture, utilization and storage; zero-carbon and electric vehicles; resource recycling and zero waste; natural carbon sinks; green lifestyles; green finance; and only transition. By integrating domestic resources, Taiwan will develop a phased plan of action to achieve its goals.
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In building the technological R&D foundation needed for the net-zero energy transition, Taiwan will focus on five areas: sustainable energy, low-carbon, circularity, carbon negativity, and social sciences. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act is amended and renamed the Climate Change Response Act. The changes will make net-zero emissions a long-term national reduction goal by 2050, improve the effectiveness of climate policies, add a climate change adaptation chapter, strengthen information disclosure and public participation, and introduce a carbon pricing mechanism . The law will provide economic incentives to reduce emissions, guide low-carbon and green growth, and help complete the foundations of national climate legislation and policy.
Taiwan’s long-term vision for 2050 is to make the transition to net-zero emissions the new driver of national development. By creating competitive, circular, sustainable, resilient and secure transition strategies and governance foundations, Taiwan will spur economic growth, encourage private investment, create green jobs, promote energy independence and improve social well-being.
Due to political factors, Taiwan is barred from international organizations and cannot significantly participate in discussions on global climate issues. It is difficult for Taiwan to keep up with current developments and properly implement the related tasks. This creates gaps in global climate policy. Taiwan has limited independent energy sources and an economic system geared towards foreign trade. If it cannot seamlessly connect to the international cooperation mechanisms under the Paris Agreement, it will not only affect Taiwan’s green industry process, but also undermine the stability of international supply chains. Faced with the threat of carbon border adjustments, Taiwan’s overall competitiveness could be seriously affected if it is unable to participate fairly in international emission reduction mechanisms. It will also weaken the effectiveness of international cooperation and undermine the world economy.
The transition to net-zero emissions is an inescapable collective responsibility of this generation. The goal can only be achieved if the international community works together. In the spirit of pragmatism and professionalism, Taiwan is willing to make concrete contributions to combating global climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that no matter what the situation, Taiwan has tremendous potential to contribute to the world in extremely helpful ways. Taiwan should be given the same opportunity to join international cooperation mechanisms in response to climate change. We hope that the international community will support Taiwan’s prompt, fair and meaningful involvement.