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Taiwan disputes poor climate change ranking

12/09/2023 10:54 PM
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Taipei, Dec. 9 (CNA) The Ministry of Environment argued Friday that Taiwan's decarbonization effort is on the right track after a recent ranking of climate change performance by international climate groups put Taiwan in the bottom 10 percent of the countries surveyed.

Taiwan ranked 61st out of 67 positions in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), released at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai on Friday, down from 57th last year.

The top three positions remained empty as "no country performed well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating," according to the index, produced by German groups Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and Climate Action Network International.

The CCPI takes into account 14 indicators in four main categories -- greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy. GHG emissions count for 40 percent of the overall score, while the other categories count for 20 percent.

Performance in the first three categories is based on quantitative data while the "climate policy" section evaluates each country's progress in implementing policies working toward achieving the Paris Agreement goals, according to the report presenting the index.

Based on 2022 data, the index gave Taiwan a "very low" rating in the GHG emissions and energy use categories and a "low" rating for renewable energy and climate policy.

"Taiwan's share of renewable energy in electricity was 8.6 percent in 2022. It announced a target share of 20 percent by 2025 and wants to achieve 30 percent by 2030," the report said.

"The CCPI country experts request further increasing of Taiwan's share of renewables and planning of a fossil fuel phase-out in the near future."

MOENV disputes CCPI

In a statement Friday, the Ministry of Environment disputed the value of the index as an informative reference, describing its methodology as "controversial."

Using "population" as one of its determining factors, the index does not show each country's actual decrease in GHG emissions as a whole and their efforts in renewable energy installation and energy use efficiency improvement, the ministry said.

In the GHG emissions category, the index compares countries by their "per capita" carbon dioxide emissions based on current per capita emissions levels, and their per capita emissions trend over the past five years.

It also looks at current compatibility with a Paris Agreement-compatible pathway to achieve a "well-below 2-degree Celsius" target and how a country's 2030 target compares with the pathway.

Taiwan rated "very low" for its current per capita emissions, "medium" for its five-year trend, and "very low" for both comparisons to its pathways.

The ministry took issue with how the pathways were assigned, arguing that they seemed to favor less developed countries, such as India and China, or countries with higher starting points for emissions per capita, such as the United States.

India, with a population of over 1.4 billion, recorded 2.27 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita in 2022, and is allowed in the index to increase that to 4.38 tons per capita in 2030.

Taiwan, on the other hand, had 11.44 tons of carbon emissions per capita in 2022 and is expected to lower that to 2.43 tons per capita in 2030, based on its assigned pathway to keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees.

"The world's major carbon emitting countries such as China, the U.S., and Russia have been granted a 2030 target that is more lenient than what Taiwan has been given -- 4.07 tons, 7.57 tons and 7.05 tons, respectively," the ministry said.

That means "every Taiwanese has to shoulder more responsibility in cutting emissions ... than major carbon emitting countries," according to the ministry. "This evaluation is clearly not reasonable."

Even if Taiwan's pathway were more lenient, however, it would still have likely been judged harshly because the index showed Taiwan's 2030 emissions target to still be a relatively high 9.30 tons per capita.

Other Indices

The ministry also defended Taiwan's record by arguing it had ranked higher in other surveys.

One of them was the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research, which is developed by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and compares each country's increase in carbon emissions with that of 2005 as a baseline.

In that survey, China and India registered an 86 percent and 79 percent increases in emissions as of 2022, and South Korea had 25 percent and Singapore 37.6 percent increases, according to the ministry.

"In contrast, Taiwan recorded a 7-percent decrease, which was only second to Japan in Asia and ranked 45th among 210 countries," it said.

Chao Chia-wei (趙家緯), an adjunct assistant professor with the International Degree Program in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at National Taiwan University, also questioned the CCPI's rankings, saying they were at odds with other rankings of climate performance.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific project that tracks government climate action, for example, described India's action as "highly insufficient" in 2022, but in the CCPI India is highly "on track" with its Paris Agreement-compatible pathway, Chao said.

On energy use, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Germany as third and Mexico 14th in its 2022 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, but in the CCPI, Mexico is placed higher than Germany, Chao said.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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