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Carbon Reduction Overview

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Mitigation refers to the disruption of greenhouse gas levels through human intervention for the purpose of mitigating the rate and scale of climate change. This method is concerned with either reducing the emissions or increasing the storage capacity of GHGs. The United Nations has held several large-scale meetings in the hope of garnering international support and cooperation on carbon-reduction schemes, thus mitigating the impact of climate change. 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1997, the UNFCCC was updated with the Kyoto Protocol, a legally binding protocol adopted in Kyoto that required all signatories to commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions within a set schedule.

 

Due to conflicts among the participants, however, the full force of the Kyoto Protocol was delayed until February 2005. The 2009 Earth Summit held in Denmark did not reach a consensus regarding the new mitigating objective after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The summit merely resulted in the legally non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which outlined the need to prevent global temperatures from increasing by more than 2°C. Participants had agreed to continue combating climate change, to provide immediate and long-term financial aid to fellow nations that are most at risk due to their high vulnerability, and to attempt to transform the accord into a legally binding document within two years. Although subsequent attempts to legalize the accord failed, in the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Mexico, nations came to a consensus formally known as the Cancun Agreements, in which an Adaptation Committee was established to reinforce actions in adaptation; a policy of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) was agreed upon to allow participants to choose their environmental priorities; and all countries were allowed to formulate their own carbon-reduction commitment. These measures resulted in a bottom-up global carbon-reduction trend.

 

A Green Climate Fund, a Technology Mechanism and a Climate Technology Centre and Network were also established to aid the transfer of funds and technology from developed nations to developing nations, assisting these countries to enhance their mitigative and adaptive capacities.

 

Regardless of these developments, in considering the process of consensus building and promoting a mitigation strategy, the reality is that even though the practical emission-reducing goals are set, the accords are ratified, and countries are starting to work together in mitigating GHG emissions, the effects of climate change cannot be completely negated. As a dutiful citizen of the global community, the Republic of China has pledged to play its part in mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases. In response to climate change and current international circumstances in energy and the environment, during its 3095th session in 2008, the Executive Yuan ratified the Sustainable Energy Policy, declaring the nation's targets of returning to 2005 carbon emission levels by 2020 (a 45% businessas-usual reduction), and returning to 2000 carbon emission levels by 2025.

 

In order to meet the nation's carbon-reduction targets, the Executive Yuan also founded the Energy Saving and Carbon Reduction Promotion Commission in 2009 to draft the National Master Action Plan on Energy Saving and Carbon Reduction. This action plan, which is divided into 10 topics and 35 subgroups, includes various aspects such as updating the nation's environmental laws and policies, developing a low carbon energy system and carbon-reducing community, financing eco-friendly industries, constructing greener transportation networks, building greener landscapes and green buildings, investing in carbonreducing technology, promoting carbon-reducing infrastructure, reinforcing the concept of carbonreduction into public and school education, and persuading the public to adopt greener lifestyles, etc. The goal is to lead the low carbon development through government policy and create an energyconserving and carbon-reducing society. It is hoped that Taiwan can reach its goal of carbon reduction and transform itself into a low carbon island in both social and economic respects.

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