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Tax on carbon emissions possible in three to five years: minister

2012/05/28 21:31:26

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) A tax on carbon emissions will take between three and five years to implement, the head of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said Monday, drawing attention to changes that have already been made to the Clean Air Act.

"Reaching the goal will not be easy, but the listing of six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act in early May has been a big step," said Environment Minister Stephen Shen.

The EPA will push for the greenhouse gas emission checking and reporting system to work out volume levels before coordinating with the public on the tax proposal, he said.

Shen made his remarks while reporting on current carbon reduction measures and the legitimacy of the Kaohsiung City government's plan to push for a tax on carbon emission in the southern city.

"It is not suitable for local governments to push for the levying of such taxes ahead of the central government," the minister said of the Kaohsiung government's proposal.

According to statistics in 2009, greenhouse gas emissions in Kaohsiung reached a high of 58.88 million metric tons, with carbon emissions accounting for 75 percent of the total.

"The EPA maintains the stance that carbon emissions from one place may well enter other areas, and that legislation on carbon emissions and related taxes must be consistent nationally," the minister said.

"A local government's regulations should not infringe on the central government's function," Shen added. "It is not fair for a single place to levy the tax."

Even if Kaohsiung is the area with the largest amount of carbon emissions, he said, the city may by no means be the biggest victim.

If one area has high carbon emissions, it will be levied more taxes, but the funds should be used in affected areas, the minister proposed.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Liu Shi-fang said the central government should not strip away the city's rights afforded by the Local Government Act, saying that the central government should only have the right to "supervise."

(By Zoe Wei and Lilian Wu)