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September 20, 2017

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UK special representative for climate change promotes low-carbon economy

I am delighted to be back in Taiwan for what will actually be my final overseas visit as the U.K. Special Representative for Climate Change. Much has changed since my last visit here in 2014: The world is more resolute in its determination to tackle the threat of climate change but also more optimistic about the opportunities that the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy will create.

During the November 2016 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, the focus of the international community centred on implementation of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement. And it was clear from the discussions that innovation will have an essential role to play.

The U.K. is playing a leading role in international efforts to drive forward innovation in clean energy technologies. As members of the $30 billion per annum Mission Innovation Initiative, we will work together with our partners to invest in clean energy research and development in transformative energy; to deliver future energy solutions that are clean, affordable and reliable.

In the U.K. we are already reaping the benefits of early investment into our own low carbon sector: a sector now worth over 46 billion pounds across more than 90,000 businesses. The sector directly employs more than 240,000 people in the U.K. and directly supports many more. Today the global low carbon economy is estimated to be worth more than US$5 trillion and over the next 15 years it is estimated around US$90 trillion will be invested in the world's energy systems, land use and urban infrastructure.

In Taiwan, I am encouraged to see that green energy is one of the core innovative industries of the future that the current Democratic Progressive Party administration is focussed on developing as a central plank of its economic policy. Tomorrow I will visit Tainan to learn first hand about plans to develop the Shalun Green Energy Science City project. I hope to learn more about plans for research into energy storage, smart grids and clean energy technologies. Encouraging innovation in smart grids and energy storage technologies to match demand with supply is not a challenge that Taiwan is alone in facing and I hope to use my trip to explore how the U.K. and Taiwan might work together on this and other areas related to energy innovation.

But aside from discussions about energy technology, I also hope to be able to share U.K. policy expertise. When I last came to Taiwan, I had discussions with policy makers here about the value of the U.K.'s 2008 Climate Change Act in galvanizing our Government's efforts to tackle the U.K.'s own emissions and to make the case for Taiwan to consider a similar piece of legislation. When Taiwan passed its own Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act in 2015, you took an important step forward. And I am encouraged to learn that Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration has drawn up draft Guidelines on Climate Change Action covering adaptation and more crucially mitigation. Under current plans, once agreed, the plan will then be reviewed on a five yearly basis to assess progress towards the objective of reducing Taiwan's emissions to 50 percent of their 2005 level by 2050. I look forward to learning more about these plans during my visit.

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