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March 30, 2017

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Gov't must work harder to develop a 'low-carbon' nation

Scientists have long warned that global warming is one of the most important environmental problems in the world today. They contend that the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, as well as the extensive use of agricultural land and livestock breeding, have dramatically changed the composition of the atmosphere and triggered global warming.

Although they have predicted the phenomenon for decades, some major industrial powers have failed to acknowledge the adverse effects of global warming, including the incidences of droughts in some areas, floods in others or the rising temperatures of the oceans and the rising sea level.

The governments of Japan, France, Germany, the UK and Sweden, on the contrary, have devised a string of innovative measures for reducing energy consumption and have set up a reasonable timetable for cutting carbon emissions. In the wake of this year's Earth Day, it is time for Taiwanese authorities to set up a more ambitious plan and timetable for significantly lowering the island's carbon emissions with clear reduction targets set for 2016-2020, 2025 and 2050.

Since the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office on May 20, 2008, the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA, 行政院環境保護署署) has pushed for the adoption of the Sustainable Energy Policy Guidelines (SEPG) and passed regulations aimed at reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions and implementing low interest loans to help households buy new equipment to reduce electricity consumption. But, the government should take more steps to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and build Taiwan into an "environmentally responsible country."

Even though Taiwan is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, experts have warned that the country could soon become a victim of climate change and be punished by international organizations if it fails to respond to global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Taiwan produces around 1 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, a number that, experts agree, is far too high and is worrying. So, to help reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA should at least cut emissions to the 2008 level by 2020, to the 2000 level by 2025, and to half of the 2000 level by 2050.

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