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ECCT participates in the 2014 inauguration of the Carbon Mitigation Alliance

The ECCT's Low Carbon Initiative (LCI) participated in the 2014 inaugural conference of the Carbon Mitigation Alliance.

The Carbon Mitigation Alliance was initiated in 2013 by the EPA to facilitate the transformation of domestic industries to low carbon operations as well as to establish a communicative platform for governments and businesses to exchange information and share opinions with regards to carbon reduction and actions to address climate change.

 

The event was officially opened by Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Minister Shen Shu-hung. Opening remarks were also made by ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo and Director of the British Trade & Cultural Office in Taiwan, Chris Wood. Keynote presentations were given by Thomas Fann, ECCT Automotive committee Co-chair and Bernd Barkey, ECCT Executive Director and ECCT LCI Representative. Other speakers included EPA Minister Shen, the Secretary General of Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Chairman of GreTai Securities Market, the President of Taiwan Financial Services Roundtable Co.,Ltd., the VP of China Steel.

In his opening remarks EPA Minister Shen referred to the September 2013 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which concludes that it is 95% certain that humans are primarily responsible for recent climate change. The report has sparked growing calls for action tackle climate change globally. Minister Shen said that he was therefore encouraged that the Carbon Mitigation Alliance had grown from 60 members from a variety of industries in 2013 to 123 members so far in 2014. He noted that Taiwan Power Company is participating in the inaugural meeting, which is an important development as state-owned companies, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and private firms all need to play a part in curbing carbon emissions. The Carbon Mitigation Alliance plans to hold three major events this year to increase awareness and spur cooperation among all stakeholders.

In his opening speech ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo said that the ECCT's LCI was delighted to be part of the EPA's efforts to facilitate the Clean Carbon Alliance in Taiwan. Like the EPA, European governments and businesses recognize that the world is on an unsustainable path and there is an urgent need for sustainable development. The chairman said that as the largest organization representing European business in Taiwan, the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan is committed to supporting environmentally-friendly business practices and promoting sustainability. The chairman added that this is essential for the survival of our planet and improving business competitiveness.

The chairman pointed out that European countries and companies are global leaders in developing and implementing sustainable, low carbon solutions for a wide range of industries and that the European Union has played a pioneering role in creating a political and legal framework for sustainability while European corporations have led the way in changing the way business is done. The aim of becoming a low carbon operation has become an integral part of the way European firms do business. European companies have actively developed and embraced sustainable solutions. Nearly every leading company has integrated sustainability, green solutions or low carbon into their company strategy and vision. They behave as responsible citizens and also promote these ideas among the ranks of their employees, stakeholders and customers, he said.

In his speech, the chairman gave a brief introduction to the LCI. In 2012 leading European companies and institutions from among ECCT members joined forces to create the Low Carbon Initiative or LCI. The LCI currently has 22 member companies. The aim of the LCI is to showcase the best European low carbon solutions and practices across a broad range of industries, to raise awareness about sustainable development and promote the adoption of low carbon solutions in order to help Taiwan to reduce its carbon emissions. Members provide proven technologies that can help to reduce Taiwan's carbon emissions across a wide range of industries. Promoting low carbon products and technology can also spur economic activity in low carbon solutions, thereby creating a virtuous circle, reducing dependence on highly-polluting fossil fuels while boosting business opportunities. From buildings to vehicles to factories to power stations that produce electricity, European companies are continuously developing new and better sustainable solutions. Through constant innovation, European countries and companies are working on new ways to improve energy efficiency and sustainability in every aspect of modern life.

Europe also has ambitious targets for producing renewable energy. The EU aims to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 while Taiwan's target for total renewable energy is 8% of total energy generating capacity by 2025. The chairman concluded that he hoped that through partnership between the ECCT LCI, the EPA and Taiwanese corporations, more ambitious targets will be set and a large-scale adoption of low carbon and sustainable solutions will be realized in Taiwan. In this way, we can all look forward to a green, low carbon and sustainable future, he said.

In his opening speech Chris Wood referred to the severe flooding in the United Kingdom over recent weeks, noting that the UK has just had its wettest winter on record. Meanwhile, the United States and Japan have both experienced record snowfalls. Extreme weather events have been common for decades but they are becoming increasingly frequent. The UK and Taiwan both face climate threats. Four out of five of the wettest and warmest years have occurred since 2000. The frequency of severe storms hitting Taiwan has increased. There is now little doubt that humans are responsible for climate change. Governments need to work together to tackle climate change. Many are hopeful that there will be a binding global agreement following the next climate change talks in 2015 but beyond that all stakeholders need to work together. According to Wood, the UK government sees business as crucial because they can invest in and develop solutions and put them in place. He noted that the market for green products is already worth US$200 billion. Government and business need to consult on creating policies that minimize impact and create business conditions. UK businesses have worked with the government to ensure business is more transparent, put in place an emissions trading system and a system to finance green solutions. Taiwan's strength in and focus on innovation means Taiwan is well-placed to develop and implement innovative solutions. Woods concluded that the Carbon Mitigation Alliance is an excellent example of the type of cooperation needed.

In his keynote presentation, Thomas Fann noted that while automobile markets in the west have reached a mature phase, sales in emerging markets are still rising, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Total sales in Asia are expected to account for 46% of global market share by 2020.

Emerging market growth has been huge while sales in the west have stabilized. Given their contribution to emissions, automakers have an obligation to take action. Much progress has already been made in recent decades but the process will continue.

Mobility and connectivity will have a big impact on the automobile industry. Among multiple benefits, connected devices will make driving safer and will help to improve traffic flow. Meanwhile companies like google are experimenting with driverless cars, which, if technologies are properly developed, have the potential to drastically reduce accidents in future (since most accidents are the result of human error).

With regard to mitigating carbon emissions, Fann's firm believes a holistic approach is needed to minimize the environmental impact of the automotive industry. This should include every aspect of a vehicle's production (the manufacturing process, technologies and materials used), energy usage during the life of the vehicle and eventual recycling. In addition, new business models should be explored. For example, the traditional single vehicle owner business model could be expanded to include new car sharing scheme business models, now being tested in the US and Europe. There is also a need for a holistic rethink of transportation to maximize efficiency and make travel more time and cost-effective by optimizing the most efficient air, train, metro and automobile transport options for each trip.

For its part, Ford is continuously working to improve technologies for existing internal combustion engines as well as develop hybrid and zero emissions vehicles. Ford has aggressive targets to reduce emissions and the overall environmental impact of its processes and the vehicles it produces. Fann noted that many automakers now produce pure electric vehicles, but they are still too expensive for the mass market while the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles is not yet in place. To achieve lower emissions affordably requires more solutions in the interim such as hybrids and fuel efficient internal combustion vehicles. Another important aspect is materials. Using recycled and light-weight materials to produce vehicles reduce the impact on the environment. In addition, monitoring and managing the supply chain is essential. Teaching drivers how to maximize fuel efficiency is also important. Ford issues an annual sustainability report which includes managing resources such as water. The same standards are implemented at its facilities all over the world.

In his presentation Bernd Barkey gave an overview and update of the ECCT's LCI. He briefed attendees on the LCI's history, membership, platforms, publications and activities since its inception. He also gave a preview of the LCI's planned activities for the year ahead.

After the LCI briefing, Barkey proceeded to introduce his company, Bosch, and its carbon mitigation efforts. According to Barkey, 40% of the company's budget is devoted to green products while 50% of revenue is attributable to green products. Automotive products are Bosch's largest business segment, accounting for 60% of its total revenues. Barkey said it remains to be seen which type of electric vehicles (battery or hydrogen fuel cells) will win in the market. In the meantime, it is still possible to achieve another 30% reduction in emissions from internal combustion engines and this will be the focus of industry players in the short to medium term.

At the same time, Bosch is helping to develop the best infrastructure and business model for electric vehicles. Barkey said his company has been involved in a trial EV project with the Singapore government since 2011 with the aim of understanding the environmental and economic effects of the system. Their involvement includes designing, producing and operating recharging stations including billing and pricing. The trial of 108 charging stations and 100 cars has been very successful so far, according to Barkey and Bosch has already learnt a lot from the process. To create a successful EV infrastructure, Bosch is recommending an open and flexible system that is open to hardware manufacturers. However, government support is essential to get the system off the ground and it can only be successful when technology is sufficiently developed and costs come down.

Panel discussion
Following the morning's session, a panel discussion was held. Speakers discussed the need for a united approach and goals on the part of all stakeholders in order to reach the common objectives of achieving sustainable growth and lower carbon emissions. Because there are a range of opinions and views on the best way forward, the best solution is to find common ground and concentrate on those areas. The Carbon Mitigation Alliance provides a good platform for finding such common ground and making plans for action based on this.

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