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ECCT LCI participates in MoEA conference on green economy trends

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On 11 July representatives from two LCI member companies, Solvent and IKEA, gave presentations at the International Conference on "Innovative Business Visions in the Trend of Global Green Economy" arranged by the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BoFT, under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, MoEA) in cooperation with the Green Trade Project Office (GTPO, MoEA) and the LCI. Over 320 participants registered for the conference including government officials from the MoEA, National Development Council, Taipei City Government, New Taipei City Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local corporations including Taipower, Delta, LiteOn, Compal, Tatung, research institutes ITRI and III and TAITRA.

Opening remarks were made by Paul Wang, Chief Secretary of the BoFT, Dr Liang Chi-yuan, Chairman of the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) and Dr Wen Lih-chyi, Deputy Director of the GTPO. Dr Wen also introduced the speakers from the morning session and moderated a panel discussion to wrap up the morning session...

Bart Linssen, Technical Service Manager for Solvent was one of five speakers in the morning session. He gave a presentation titled "Cheap renewables: Dawn of a new energy era". He explained that Solvent has 180 wind turbines installed in Taiwan, which the company is monitoring and maintaining. The cost of fossil fuel energy is going up while the cost of renewables is falling steadily. This is an important issue for Taiwan because it depends on imports for most of its energy needs and, as a percentage of GDP, energy costs have risen from only 3% of GDP in 1990 to 15% now. This means that state-owned power company Taipower's fuel costs have increased significantly over the past 10 years. Besides monetary costs, we should also take into account the hidden costs from fossil fuels to human health. Linssen cited statistics which estimate that coal-fired power plants cause 60 deaths per terawatt hour. Some of Taiwan's coal-fired power plants are dirtier than average, thereby exposing people to significant pollution. Climate change attributed to human activity is also resulting in indirect costs resulting from the need to address water shortages, a higher incidence of extreme weather events such as floods and rising sea levels. For example, building new protective barriers along coast lines costs millions while flooding and droughts both lead to food shortages and higher food prices.
The good news is that wind energy is already 10% cheaper than coal and, in places like Taiwan, where wind is virtually constant, (Solvent's wind turbines operate over 90% of the time), it is a very stable source of energy. According to Linssen, wind technology is continuously being improved, making terminals more efficient and wind energy even cheaper. New turbines are larger, quieter and more efficient than previous versions. For example, a new project in the Netherlands needs only 86 large-scale turbines to provide power to 400,000 households, the equivalent of the population of Taichung.
Currently there are 250,000 turbines worldwide and many countries have ambitious goals to increase capacity. For example, Denmark already generates 35% of its energy from renewables and plans to increase this to 50% by 2020. Germany aims to increase renewables to 35% by 2020. Even Texas in the United States is promoting and investing in wind energy, despite being a traditional oil-producing state. Besides governments, many large multinationals have committed to renewable energy. For example, IKEA, Apple, Google, Starbucks and Walmart have committed to powering their operations from renewables.
Other speakers during the morning session were Dr Pu Guan-chih, Director, Taiwan Power Research Institute; Cooke Lai, Director, System Business Development Department, NexPower; Veronica Lin, Board Member, Taiwan Energy Service Association and Chou Lien-ho, Director, Advantech Intelligent Services.
The afternoon session featured presentations by Lin Wen-hsin, Chief, Green Industry Division, New Taipei City Government; Jerry Chu, Procurement Manager, DHL Taiwan; Stephen Pao, Manager, SGS; Yasuhiro Suzuki, Greater China Environment Cluster Leader, Tetra Pak and John Zhong, Deputy Sustainability Manager, IKEA.
In his presentation John Zhong said it is IKEA's vision to create a better life for people by offering a wide range of affordable products. The company offers some 9,000 products for sale in 300 group stores and introduces around 2000 new products each year. The company has made a commitment to become carbon positive and has begun by measuring the impact of its operations and supply chain. The firm has calculated the carbon footprint from its use of cotton, wood, water and palm oil and launched a sustainability strategy last year to be "people and planet positive". The firm has three main goals: 1) to enable customers to live more sustainably; 2) to become energy and resource and independent and 3) to create a better life for people and communities. In line with these goals, the firm is working hard to provide products that use recycled materials and reduce the use of water and waste. It has set a goal to quadruple sales of products to help customers live more sustainably – ie products that reduce water and waste. For example, the company has started selling solar panels and LEDs in some markets in Europe. By the end of 2016, only LED products or products (such as lights sold in stores) that use LEDs will be sold in IKEA stores.
The firm is also working on improving logistics and supply chain management. By the end of 2015 all cotton will be from sustainable sources (it reached 72% in 2013). All wood used by IKEA should be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or recycled. The level of one third was achieved in 2013 and the goal is to reach 50% by 2017. IKEA is also working with the FSC and contributing to certified forests by planting trees.
The firm also wants to produce more energy from renewables than it uses in its facilities. In this regard it will invest €1.5 billion euros in renewables (including wind turbines). By 2020, the firm aims to produce at least as much energy as it uses.
The third goal is to create a better life for people and communities. The IWAY code of conduct is aimed at improving work places at its suppliers. The firm has initiated hundreds of thousands of improvements for workers in the supply chain. The IKEA foundation is also engaged in a number of initiatives to improve the quality of life for people and communities including donations to UNICEF and Save the Children.