Taiwan unveils hopes of leadership in CCS

Publish date: November 6, 2014

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has announced his country’s ambitious climate change mitigation plan which entails pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 2005 levels, and by 2025 to levels last seen in 2000. This is a significant voluntary commitment given the country’s level of economic development. In order to achieve these targets, Taiwan has reiterated its commitment to promoting CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technologies, in which the country aspires to become a leader.

The republic of Taiwan, despite not being a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Kyoto Protocol, made a voluntary commitment in 2010 that it would aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% relative to business-as-usual scenario by 2020. This represents a very ambitious target, especially when compared to those of countries with similar levels of economic development such as Singapore (16%).

Taiwan has already demonstrated important accomplishments in saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions in recent years. In 2008, Taiwan’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion saw their first decline since 1990 and annual emissions from 2008 to 2013 declined by an average of 0.4%. Meanwhile, emission intensity (i.e. CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) in the period of 2008-2013 fell by an average of 3.1% per year, indicating that Taiwan has gradually achieved a negative correlation between economic growth and carbon emissions. In order to maintain this progress, Taiwan claims it will continue to prioritise building a low-carbon, green-energy environment as part of its national development.

As fossil fuels will continue to provide a considerable share of Taiwan’s energy sources in the foreseeable future, the country has noted the potential of CCS technologies in attaining its national emission reduction targets, and hopes to accelerate their development. Taiwan has shared its hopes of becoming a leader in the field of CCS and enhancing its cooperation with partners in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Taiwan undertook a first step in this regard in 2011 with the establishment of a strategic CCS technology alliance which brings together resources of the government, academia and the research sector to analyse CCS promotion strategies and relevant legal aspects. This alliance also assesses the environmental impacts associated with CCS deployment and tries to increase public awareness of the technology.

Bellona finds these developments encouraging, particularly in light of the recent release of the Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 2 November 2014, which explicitly states that in the longer term “fossil fuel power generation without CCS would need to be phased out almost entirely by 2100” if we are to avoid a rise in mean surface temperature to 2° C.