Taiwan begins to plan for zero emissions by 2050

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visits a funeral parlour a day after a deadly train derailment in a tunnel north of Hualien, Taiwan April 3, 2021. REUTERS/Annabelle Chih

TAIPEI, April 22 (Reuters) - Taiwan has begun to assess how it can reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday, after environmental groups criticised the government for not doing enough to fight climate change.

Taiwan is keen to show it is a responsible member of the international community, though it is excluded from most international bodies and treaties due to pressure from Beijing, which considers the island its own territory.

On Wednesday, the European Union clinched a deal on a landmark climate change law that puts new, tougher targets on emissions at the heart of its policymaking, to steer it towards zero net emissions by 2050.

China has also said it aims for a 2030 peak of carbon emissions, on the way to becoming carbon-neutral by 2060.

Speaking at an Earth Day event in Taipei, Tsai said Taiwan "cannot fall behind the international trend".

"At the moment many countries are discussing the target of zero net emissions transformation by 2050, and Taiwan is actively planning it," she said.

The government, under the coordination of the cabinet, had begun to assess and plan a possible path to reach a net zero emissions target by 2050, Tsai added.

Taiwan's previous target, set in 2015, was to halve emissions between 2005 and 2050.

Last year coal provided 45% of Taiwan's electricity, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) a close second at almost 36%, according to an economy ministry briefing paper on Thursday.

Coal is set to fall to below 30% by 2025, with the proportion of LNG rising to around 50% and renewables to 20%, from just 5.4% last year, it added.

Last year, Greenpeace called on tech powerhouse Taiwan to be much more aggressive in tackling climate change, in the face of the island's risks from extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Taiwan is suffering its worst drought in more than half a century after the typhoons on which it relies to replenish reservoirs failed to make landfall last year.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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