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President Tsai attends environmental sustainability forum
President Tsai attends environmental sustainability forum

On the morning of April 22, Earth Day, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the 100 Re-Actions forum on environmental sustainability in Taipei. In remarks, President Tsai stated that the government will promote a broad transition across Taiwan's energy sector, industry, lifestyle, and society on the foundations of technology R&D and climate legislation, working together with the public to accelerate progress toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.  

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

One year ago today, on Earth Day last year, I attended this forum and announced that we would take a pragmatic and forward-looking approach in plotting a course toward net-zero emissions by 2050.

After a year of planning and interagency efforts, the National Development Council (NDC) at the end of last month (March) officially published Taiwan's Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050, along with an explanation of our overall strategy. On the foundations of technology R&D and climate legislation, the government will promote a broad transition across Taiwan's energy sector, industry, lifestyle, and society in order to accelerate progress toward net-zero emissions.
Technological advances are a key driver of the global transition to net-zero. Whether it’s the net-zero roadmap set out by the International Energy Agency (IEA) or the roadmaps of other countries, long-term carbon reduction will rely on new technologies to deliver further breakthroughs. Taiwan has globally competitive technological advantages, and we must invest in the research and development of new sustainable energy technologies, taking a multi-pronged approach to comprehensively deploy the technologies needed for net-zero. 

In terms of legislation, the Environmental Protection Administration has worked to amend the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act. In addition to changing the name of the act to the Climate Change Response Act, its proposed revisions would write the 2050 net-zero emissions goal into law while activating a carbon pricing mechanism and filling out procedures for carbon footprint verification.

Yesterday, the Executive Yuan approved these draft revisions and forwarded them to the Legislative Yuan for review. Going forward, the government will continue to push for further revisions to three key energy-related laws, and will leverage the power of green finance to help our finance sector accelerate the pace of our transition. 

Energy transition is at the heart of this work. Since 2016, the government has been actively developing our green energy industry and continues to increase our renewable energy generation capacity, transforming Taiwan into the green energy hub of Asia. The purpose of these efforts is to lay a strong foundation for our future energy transition. 

Moving forward, we will invest in the research and development of emerging technologies, including in hydrogen energy, geothermal energy, and other alternative green energy sources. Moreover, to accompany growth in green energy, we will continue to advance the development of smarter electrical grids and energy storage equipment. We want to use the power of technology to drive and accelerate the pace of our energy transition, so that by 2050, renewable energy accounts for at least 60 percent of our generation capacity, hydrogen accounts for around 10 percent, and fossil fuel with carbon capture accounts for around 20 percent, thereby achieving a stable energy transition. 

In industry, our government continues to collect recommendations from a range of agencies and develop systematic strategies for reducing carbon emissions. As a country with an export-oriented industrial sector, Taiwan needs to make structural adjustments in order to become a part of the global green supply chain, whether through the enhancement of production processes in our manufacturing sector, the electrification of vehicles, or other means. To achieve this, our public and private sectors will have to work together.

I encourage our business leaders to follow our government's model of first working with major companies to lead the way for smaller companies, together reducing the potential impacts of this transition on business while also making Taiwanese industry more competitive internationally. 

Our transition to reach net-zero by 2050 will touch every aspect of our lives. To help everyone make lifestyle adjustments, the relevant government agencies have been engaging the public in conversation to forge a broad consensus on this matter. In addition to rallying everyone in Taiwan toward a low-carbon lifestyle, we are working to incorporate this idea even more broadly in areas such as diet, transportation, and architecture. 

When it comes to the transition for society at large, the most important thing is to take care in ensuring a fair process. The government is preparing to collaborate with the public to jointly establish a social support system that will assist disadvantaged groups from all sectors of society, helping them turn the challenges of this transition into opportunities while also ensuring public participation and a just process. It is our hope that the costs of this transformation will not be unfairly placed on disadvantaged groups, which is why the government will help them through this process. 

Achieving Taiwan's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 will be a massive challenge. Our government has already planned to invest NT$900 billion by 2030 to promote our transition plans and continue to fine-tune our efforts. We also look forward to industry, academia, and all sectors of society working together with our government, as this forum reminds us that sustainability cannot be achieved by working alone. We will combine our nation's strengths and resources to ensure that the international push for a transition to net-zero by 2050 helps power Taiwan's own development heading into this new era.

The NDC's publication of Taiwan's Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050 and explanation of our overall strategy last month was just the beginning. Our government has received recommendations from industry and environmental organizations, and there will be many projects and work that will require collaboration among us all. We will soon begin the next phase of our dialogue with the public, and will continue to review and revise our plans on a rolling basis, so that the people and government can continue cooperation and take significant strides toward our goal of net-zero by 2050.

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