Today Academia Sinica announced its Taiwan Deep Decarbonization Policy White Paper as a recommendation to the Taiwan government for developing relevant national strategies aimed at achieving a low carbon future.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convened the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in December 2015 in Paris, and urged the world’s nations to agree on their nationally determined contribution (NDC) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in order to mitigate the effects of global warming. Though not a member of the UN, Taiwan announced its own NDC to fulfill its duty as a citizen of the world. However, research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other organizations shows that these NDCs, even if fully implemented, are far from achieving the intended goal of limiting global warming to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels, which means that deeper decarbonization will be necessary. Taiwan is one of the world’s relatively developed nations, and as such bears a responsibility to make deeper reductions in its own GHG emissions.

This white paper outlines the rationale and a broad approach to search for deep decarbonization pathways, and does so in the form of recommendations to the Taiwan government for developing relevant national strategies to achieve a low carbon future. We first reviewed GHG (mostly CO2) emissions and energy consumption in Taiwan during the period from 1990 to 2015, which revealed a largely increasing trend for both, although there has been a slight downward trend in more recent years. During this period and up to the present, coal fired power plants have been Taiwan’s main energy generation mode, which needs to be changed if CO2 emissions are to be reduced. We then assessed Taiwan’s energy and climate policies, which include steps to save energy, enhance energy efficiency, and lower CO2 emissions by developing renewable options such as solar and wind energy. While these are steps in the right direction, their speed and scale are inadequate for achieving the 2°C-limit goal. More drastic action must be taken to save the environment from deteriorating beyond control.

We recommend that the government should develop a deep decarbonization policy, which should serve as a guide for the nation’s future economic and social development plans. In addition, we point out key issues and a few broad technological, commercial and legislative options the government can adopt to achieve a deep decarbonization future for Taiwan.

Deep decarbonization is a difficult journey that requires revolutionary steps to complete. It is not only an essential path we have to travel in order to become a sustainable society with full environmental protection and a thriving economy, but a mammoth social responsibility to shoulder so as to ensure sustainable growth that will last from generation to generation. Academician Pao-Kuan Wang, a member of the white paper panel, indicated that the panel aims at encouraging the government to fully address the necessity of implementing adaptations to climate change. He also said that carrying out deep decarbonization represents a unique opportunity for the nation to transform itself, which is weighty burden yet significant responsibility for the present generation.

According to the Organization Act of Academia Sinica, one of its Academicians’ missions is to deliberate courses of guidance for national academic research. Accordingly, Academicians should take responsibility for discussing significant academic issues related to technology and science, as well as putting forth relevant suggestions at the Convocation of Academicians, Council of Academia Sinica, and Quarterly Meeting of Domestic Academicians. In order to fulfill our mission in an institutional framework, the President of Academia Sinica will, at an appropriate time, select Academicians and experts in related fields to form panels for deliberating key issues regarding technology and science as well as their impacts on society, and publish their reports as policy recommendations for the government.