ROC Yearbook

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A Siberian white crane that strayed from its migratory route landed in northern Taiwan's Qingshui Wetlands in December 2014, drawing public attention to the conservatin efforts inthe wetlands. (Courtesy of Taiwan Panorama )

 

Public Policies Go Green

The Republic of China (ROC) government aims to make Taiwan a low-carbon economy and an environmentally friendly society dedicated to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 

The Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) 行政院環境保護署, which will be reorganized as the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in the near future, is the nation’s highest authority overseeing environment-related policies. The EPA has designated carbon dioxide and six other GHGs as air pollutants, bringing their emission under the jurisdiction of the Air Pollution Control Act 空氣污染防制法 and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act 溫室氣體減量及管理法.

 

National Green Energy and Low Carbon Master Plan

Though Taiwan has been denied participation in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its Cabinet in 2010 approved the Master Action Plan of Energy Conservation and Carbon Reduction 國家節能減碳總行動方案, which was renamed the National Green Energy and Low Carbon Master Plan 國家綠能低碳總行動方案 in May 2014. The Master Plan, which calls for “nationally appropriate mitigation actions” that are measurable, reportable and verifiable in line with the UNFCCC Copenhagen Accord, helped cut CO2 emissions by 34.62 million tonnes between 2010 and 2015.

 

National Green Energy and Low Carbon Master Plan: Ten Strategy Plans

 

Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act

In June 2015, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act was passed by the Legislative Yuan (Legislature) 立法院, providing the government with a legal basis for taking action against climate change. The law sets a target of reducing Taiwan’s GHG emissions volume to less than half its 2005 level by the year 2050. It also stipulates the establishment of a national action plan for climate change and implementation measures for slashing greenhouse gases.

 

Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

To demonstrate Taiwan’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions, in September 2015 the government announced its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), defining Taiwan’s long-term carbon reduction goal as lowering GHG emissions to 50 percent of the business-as-usual level or 20 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. Emissions over the intervening years will be cut in line with the INDC plan (see box “Taiwan’s INDC: Toward a Green Future”).

 

Taiwan's INDC: Toward a Green Future

 

Energy Sustainability

Renewable and Low-carbon Power Generation

Taiwan is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for energy sources. Its energy supply has doubled over the past two decades to 145.08 million kiloliters of oil equivalent (KLOE) in 2015. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas constituted 90.80 percent of all energy supplies in 2015, while nuclear power and renewable energy accounted for 7.28 percent and 1.92 percent, respectively. To reduce GHG emissions, the government is committed to developing renewable energy resources, primarily solar, wind and biomass energy and secondarily hydro and geothermal energy.

 

Solar Power

Taiwan is one of the world’s largest producers of solar cells. It also has a high installation rate for solar water heaters (in terms of the ratio of heaters installed to land area). As of the end of 2015, solar power systems with a combined capacity of 842 megawatts (MW) had been installed in Taiwan. To promote solar energy panels, the Bureau of Energy (BOE) 能源局 in February 2013 launched the Million Rooftop PVs Promotion Project 陽光屋頂百萬座計畫, offering installation incentives and technical support to households, communities, businesses and local governments. The project aims to push Taiwan’s solar power installed capacity to 8,700 MW by 2030.

 

Wind Power

As of the end of 2015, the 330 land-based wind turbines along Taiwan’s northern and southwestern coasts had an installed capacity of 646.7 MW and generated around 1.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity, meeting the needs of more than 360,000 households. This translates into savings of 350,000 KLOE and a reduction of 790,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

 

With the development of onshore resources nearing maturity, Taiwan has begun tapping wind energy from offshore resources. In July 2012, the Ministry of Economic Affairs unveiled a plan to install four offshore wind turbines by 2016 with the aim of pushing offshore wind power capacity to 520 MW by 2020 and 4,000 MW by 2030. Taken together, installed capacity from the land- and sea-based turbines is expected to reach 5,200 MW by 2030.

 

Biomass Energy

Biomass fuel—produced from organic substances derived from living organisms such as plants and animals—is one of the most widely used forms of recycled energy. Major biomass measures promoted by the EPA encompass the following:

• Transforming garbage incinerators into biomass energy centers.

• Planning biomass energy centers on offshore islands.

• Employing anaerobic digestion on kitchen garbage as well as fowl and livestock feces to produce marsh gas for use.

• Mapping out and promoting regional biomass-energy action plans.

 

2015 Energy Supply and Consumption

 

Green Business Practices and Products

Since May 2010, technical service teams under the BOE have provided guidance on energy conservation to private- and public-sector organizations. Since 2004, the EPA has inked a number of memorandums of understanding on reducing GHG emissions with liquid crystal display, semiconductor and automobile industries. It has also coordinated a similar joint effort between state-owned Taiwan Power Co. 台灣電力公司 and the magnesium industry.

 

The EPA’s Green Mark Program 環保標章計畫 encourages manufacturers to produce, and consumers to purchase, products that are recyclable and have low environmental impact. From the program’s inception in 1992 through March 2016, around 12,400 products had been certified to display the Green Mark logo. In May 2013, the Green Mark Program was extended to the service sector, conferring gold, silver or bronze ratings on environmentally conscious travel agencies, restaurants, cleaning services, car rentals and car wash companies.

 

Taiwan’s Carbon Footprint Label 碳足跡標籤 system, launched in 2010, displays the amount of CO2 emissions generated throughout the life cycle of a product, from manufacturing and packaging to distribution and disposal. As of March 2016, certification to use this logo had been given to 388 products.

 

Green Transportation

In addition to a comprehensive network of public transportation, including city buses, mass rapid transit services and high-speed rail, zero-carbon modes of transporation such as pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes have been augmented, while more bicycle paths are being connected to roads and railways to promote low-carbon tourism.

 

Since March 2009, the YouBike service has provided convenient 24-hour bicycle rental at mass transit stations and other venues in Taipei City 臺北市, New Taipei City 新北市, Taoyuan City 桃園市, Hsinchu City 新竹市, Taichung City 臺中市 and Changhua County 彰化縣, with total rentals surpassing 84 million times as of June 2016. Kaohsiung City 高雄市 and Tainan City 臺南市 also operate similar bicycle rental systems, and the popular scheme is spreading quickly to other locales.

 

A number of measures are being taken to reduce air pollution caused by motor vehicles. These include routine exhaust inspections and spot checks of motor vehicles’ emissions as well as replacement of diesel-powered city buses with electric buses. Government agencies also offer incentives for the purchase of vehicles with low-pollutant emissions, including electric scooters and bicycles. Battery exchange stations for such electric vehicles are being established in major cities, while the EPA is promoting standardized batteries.

 

Cleaner Biofuels

The government has been promoting the use of biodiesel and bioethanol fuels as substitutes for, or additives to, conventional diesel (petrodiesel) fuel and gasoline. E3—a 3-percent ethanol-blend gasoline—is available at 14 gas stations in Taipei and Kaohsiung. However, B2—a 2-percent biodiesel blend—is being phased out because it could cause vehicle safety problems.

 

Green Buildings

To help mitigate global warming resulting from the greenhouse effect, Taiwan formulated a Green Building Label 綠建築標章 in 1999 to certify buildings which meet scientific standards for ecology, energy saving, waste reduction and health. Its criteria are tailored to the nation’s hot and humid tropical and subtropical climates.

 

Taiwan is the fourth nation in the world (after the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada) to establish a green building evaluation system based on scientific appraisals. With steady support from its public construction policy, it has become one of the most effective countries in promoting green architecture, which consumes less electricity and water. As of March 2016, green architecture certification had been given to 5,697 buildings in Taiwan.

 

Pollution Prevention

Air Quality

The Air Pollution Control Act empowers various levels of government to set air quality standards and establish monitoring stations. Currently, the EPA monitors Taiwan’s air quality with a network of 76 monitoring stations that measure a number of pollutants. In addition, nine stationary and two mobile photochemical monitoring stations assess ozone precursors across the country, playing an important role in atmospheric research and health risk assessments.

 

Since its implementation in 1995, the Air Pollution Control (APC) fee 空氣污染防制費 system has resulted in marked improvements in Taiwan’s air quality. The EPA levies APC fees on stationary sources of pollution like factories and construction sites as well as motor vehicles.

 

Taiwan became the world’s second country to have enacted laws to regulate indoor air quality when it promulgated the Indoor Air Quality Management Act 室內空氣品質管理法 in November 2011. Since then, the EPA has set up a number of auxiliary regulations to better implement the act. In January 2014, the EPA announced a list of 466 locations required to follow the act; another 550 were added to the list in 2016.

 

Water Quality

With maritime traffic especially heavy around Taiwan, the Marine Pollution Control Act 海洋污染防治法 and the Major Marine Oil Pollution Emergency Response Plan 重大海洋油污染緊急應變計畫 provide an important framework for government efforts to prevent and reduce marine pollution.

 

Industrial effluent and wastewater from livestock farms and households account for a large share of the pollutants in Taiwan’s rivers. In 2012, the EPA launched a six-year program to regulate pollution sources, promote on-site treatment, and involve more citizens in uncovering illegal effluent discharge activities. In early 2013, the EPA completed a program launched in 2008 to clean up six rivers running through Taiwan’s metropolitan areas, improving urban environments. Works were launched in September of the same year to further purify upstream sections of the Love River 愛河, which has been remediated and transformed into an attractive area in Kaohsiung City.

 

Today, Taiwan’s rivers, reservoirs, groundwater and surrounding seas are monitored by a network of over 950 sampling stations. Among the country’s 50 major rivers, the segments considered seriously polluted plunged to 4.2 percent in 2015 from 15.8 percent in 2003. In 2015, 99.9 percent of ocean water tests met the quality standards established under the Marine Pollution Control Act.

 

Recycling and Waste Management

In recent years, Taiwan has worked diligently to promote the philosophy “reduce, reuse, recycle,” achieving significant progress in minimizing waste and expanding recycling programs. As a result, the volume of garbage clearance per capita per day was drastically reduced from a historic high of 1.14 kilograms in 1997 to around 0.38 kilograms in 2015.

 

Taiwan has one of the world’s highest recycling rates. As of December 2015, recycling rates for household garbage had reached 55.23 percent. Households are responsible for sorting recyclable materials into a few major categories. About 3.99 million tonnes of garbage were recycled in 2015.

 

Further, in conformance with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Taiwan has enacted the Environmental Agents Control Act 環境用藥管理法 and the Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act 毒性化學物質管理法.

 

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Ecological Conservation

Forests and Forestation

Since 2002, the Forestry Bureau (FB) 林務局 of the Council of Agriculture (COA) 行政院農業委員會 has been working toward afforestation of lower-altitude plains. Between 2008 and 2014 it created three forest parks—in Chiayi 嘉義, Hualien 花蓮 and Pingtung 屏東 counties respectively—with a view to increasing leisure space for the public, promoting the sustainability of local farming industries and safeguarding the ecological environment of lower-altitude lands.

 

Over half of Taiwan—mostly mountainous and hilly regions—is clothed in trees that are protected from commercial logging by law. Protected areas include six forest reserves comprising 21,171 hectares, established with the aim of protecting Taiwan’s indigenous plant species. The FB conducts regular surveys of the reserves to monitor ecosystems and the presence of rare plant and animal species.

 

Nature Trails

The COA has mapped out 14 national and 14 regional nature trail systems to offer citizens ecological tours, hands-on environmental experiences and education, leisure activities, and beautiful scenery. Designed to minimize environmental impact, the trails are categorized according to five difficulty levels, and access to those which meander through protected forests or animal preserves requires a permit application beforehand.

 

Wildlife Protection

Along with large forests, Taiwan’s wide variety of climatic zones, which range from temperate to tropical, give it an extraordinary profusion of flora and fauna. In all, Taiwan is home to approximately 57,600 different species, of which around 30 percent are endemic. To help ensure that its ecosystems remain intact, the central government has set aside about 19 percent of the nation’s land area as protected areas, comprising nine national parks, one national nature park, 22 nature reserves for special ecosystems, six forest reserves, 20 wildlife refuges and 37 major wildlife habitats. The protection of biodiversity has also been codified in the Wildlife Conservation Act 野生動物保育法.

 

Wildlife Refuges in Taiwan

 

Wetland Conservation

As part of government efforts to maintain the biodiversity and sustainability of Taiwan’s wetlands, the Wetland Conservation Act 濕地保育法 was enacted in 2013 and took effect in 2015, stipulating the establishment of a conservation management system for Taiwan’s wetlands.

 

Government agencies and members of the general public are required to adequately preserve and manage wetlands. While agriculture, fishery and salt industries are allowed within wetlands, activities such as hunting, trapping and killing wildlife or releasing and harvesting species require government permission. Anyone wishing to profit from the use of wetlands for industrial production, business operation or tourism must gain approval from relevant authorities. Wetlands of international or national importance are off-limits to construction and development.

 

National Parks

Taiwan began promoting national parks and conservation work as early as 1961. Following the enactment of the National Park Act 國家公園法 in 1972, nine national parks (introduced below) have been created to preserve Taiwan’s natural heritage. In December 2011, the Shoushan National Nature Park 壽山國家自然公園 was established in Kaohsiung as Taiwan’s first national nature park.

 

Dongsha Atoll

Dongsha Atoll National Park 東沙環礁國家公園, Taiwan’s first marine national park, covers 353,668 hectares of marine and land areas (including Dongsha Island 東沙島). Centered on Dongsha Atoll, which was formed by corals growing over tens of thousands of years, the park is blessed with diverse fish, invertebrate and coral species.

 

Kenting

Kenting National Park 墾丁國家公園 covers 33,289 hectares and wraps around Taiwan’s tropical southernmost tip, a dramatic coastline formed by millions of years of geologic activity. The park features fossilized coral cliffs, living coral reefs and diverse marine life. Migratory birds also gather there in autumn and winter.

 

Kinmen

Kinmen National Park 金門國家公園 occupies roughly one quarter of the Kinmen Islands 金門群島, which are located just a couple of kilometers from the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland. Though established primarily to preserve local historical and cultural assets, the 3,528-hectare park has abundant natural flora and fauna, including more than 300 species of birds.

 

Shei-pa

Covering 76,850 hectares, mountainous Shei-pa National Park 雪霸國家公園 is the main watershed for northern and central Taiwan. The park has 51 peaks over 3,000 meters in height, including Xueshan Mountain 雪山, Taiwan’s second-highest at 3,886 meters. Among the park’s natural treasures is the Formosan landlocked salmon (Oncorhynchus masou formosanus), which inhabits a refuge created for it in the upper reaches of the Dajia River 大甲溪. It is believed to have been trapped in the frigid mountain waters of central Taiwan during the last Ice Age and survived there until today.

 

South Penghu

Established in June 2014 as the newest member among Taiwan’s national parks, South Penghu Marine National Park 澎湖南方四島國家公園 encompasses 370 hectares of land area and 35,473 hectares of surface water within the southern Penghu Islands 澎湖群島 area. It features special basalt geology, rich and diverse marine ecology, as well as unique cultural communities.

 

Taijiang

Established in 2009, Taijiang National Park 台江國家公園 in southwestern Taiwan is a 39,310-hectare marvel that is unique among Taiwan’s national parks, encompassing wetlands and lagoons, salterns, fish farms and oyster farms, as well as historic sites of vintage artillery emplacements. The estuaries of three rivers flow through the park’s four major wetlands. The park features conservation areas for mangroves and black-faced spoonbills.

 

Taroko

The centerpiece of Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 is Taroko Gorge, a spectacular 19-kilometer marble canyon that was lifted up from the earth by tectonic movement and carved out by the Liwu River 立霧溪. Sharp differences in altitude in this area allow the surrounding region to support a rich diversity of animal and plant life. Over 2,500 species of plants and animals can be found in the 92,000-hectare park.

 

Yangmingshan

Located on the northern edge of Taipei City, Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山國家公園 is easily accessible to residents. The 11,338-hectare park is graced with lush, grassy meadows, mountain peaks and waterfalls and is noted for its hot springs heated by long-dormant volcanoes.

 

Yushan

Located in central Taiwan and spanning nearly 103,121 hectares, Yushan National Park 玉山國家公園 contains 30 of the 100 highest mountain peaks in Taiwan, including Yushan Mountain (Jade Mountain) 玉山, Northeast Asia’s highest peak at 3,952 meters. The wide spectrum of climatic zones means that a large variety of animal and plant life can be found in the park. Subtropical, temperate and alpine species all thrive on Yushan Mountain.

 

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Related Websites

  • Environmental Protection Administration: http://www.epa.gov.tw

  • Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs: http://www.moeaboe.gov.tw

  • Recycling Fund Management Board: http://recycle.epa.gov.tw

  • Council of Agriculture: http://www.coa.gov.tw

  • Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, Council of Agriculture: http://www.swcb.gov.tw/

  • Nature Conservation: http://conservation.forest.gov.tw/

• Taiwan Forest Recreation: http://recreation.forest.gov.tw

• National Parks of Taiwan: http://np.cpami.gov.tw

  • YouBike: http://www.youbike.com.tw