Central and Kinmen Governments Commit to 3-2-0 Kinmen Low-carbon Island Plan

On 8 July 2013, the Kinmen Low-carbon Island Task Force – a group with EPA Deputy Minister Tzi-Chin Chang and Kinmen Magistrate Wo-Shi Lee as joint conveners – convened its first committee meeting in Kinmen County. The meeting showed the commitment of the central and local governments toward the Kinmen Low-carbon Island scheme that aims to turn Kinmen into a zero-carbon island by the year 2030.

The task force committee meeting was the first since the approval of the Development Plan of Kinmen Low-carbon Island by the Executive Yuan. Kinmen was chosen as the location for the meeting to signify the importance that the central government places on building low-carbon infrastructure and a sustainable green economy for the island. The task force is composed of senior personnel and bureau chiefs from central and Kinmen government departments. They are charged with supervising and coordinating the work, as well as evaluating and reporting on progress made. Some of the work will involve interdepartmental cooperation to integrate resources and thus make the carbon reduction efforts more effective. 

The Kinmen low-carbon plan involves maintaining the unique features of the island while developing local government administration, as well as setting targets for energy saving and carbon reduction. The EPA has already worked with the Kinmen County Government to complete overall assessments and planning for construction of the island’s low-carbon infrastructure. The Building Kinmen Low-carbon Island Plan (for 2013-2018) has already been put forward, and involved setting a number of forward-looking and challenging “3-2-0 Low Carbon” targets: Reducing the annual average per capita CO2 emissions for Kinmen residents from 3.79 tonnes in 2009 to 3 tonnes in 2014, to 2 tonnes by 2020, and to be carbon neutral (zero carbon) by the year 2030. The plan was approved by the Executive Yuan on 20 May 2013. 

Putting the Kinmen low-carbon plan into action over the next six years will involve the central government, Kinmen County Government and the private sector providing a total expenditure of NT$4.322 billion. This capital will be spent on areas such as manufacturing, transport, buildings, and living environments, with the specific measures laid out in six primary flagship plans. Each phase will have concrete targets for energy savings and carbon reduction, and implementation of the plans will stimulate the development of local green industries, eco-tourism, and other related industries. The EPA estimates that the boost to the local economy will reach NT$821 million annually, which means that the invested capital will be returned in 5.27 years. The total reduction in carbon is expected to reach 600,000 tonnes, and approximately 1,000 employment opportunities will be created. 

A statistical survey done by the EPA reveals that in 2013 the central and Kinmen governments spent over NT$431.5 million on Kinmen’s low-carbon infrastructure. For plans approved for implementation in 2014, the central government has already allocated an estimated budget of NT$216.42 million. EPA Deputy Minister Tzi-Chin Chang and Kinmen County Commissioner Wo-Shi Lee have also promised that the central and local government will work closely together to bring in low-carbon technologies and facilities that will facilitate the transformation of Kinmen into an intelligent low-carbon island. They are both completely confident that the 3-2-0 carbon reduction targets can be achieved. 

The Kinmen County Government has been vigorously rolling out a pilot plan for the low-carbon island infrastructure over the last two years and took the rare opportunity provided by the committee meeting to show their central government counterparts the sustainable low-carbon measures that are already in place. These included transportation by electric buses and sightseeing with electric carts that gave the central government personnel a taste of the convenience and eco-friendliness of green transport and low-carbon sightseeing. They were also able to observe clean up work in progress, environmental greening through planting, well-designed and eye-catching eco-friendly scenic spots, and low-carbon recreational bicycle paths. They were also impressed by the traditional Minnan style buildings that have been painstakingly restored – to preserve local cultural heritage and to help to rejuvenate small villages – some of which have been turned into B&Bs. The EPA is keen to point out that the B&B tourist industry is eligible to take part in the EPA’s Green Action Plan that encourages visitors to bring their own toiletries when staying in green hotels, to avoid having sheets and towels changed if possible, and to rent electric scooters or electric-assisted bicycles during their stay in order to minimize their impact upon the environment. 

The EPA emphasized that building the low-carbon infrastructure on Kinmen will take many years of persistent and progressive work, building on technological advances as they appear. Each of the planned measures will need the involvement and cooperation of government, corporations, and the general public. These three powerful forces – central and local government cooperation, green manufacturing and private sector capital investment and participation of citizen groups and individuals – will be applied to the goals of low-carbon energy applications, maximizing energy efficiency, and popularizing low-carbon economic activities. When supported by suitable education policies and promotion in order to change values and lifestyle habits they will enable saving energy and reducing carbon emissions to become an integral part of daily life on Kinmen, making the island a benchmark for Taiwan’s low-carbon vision.

 

Prepared by Environmental Policy Monthly, August 2013