(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan could set its carbon tax at around $10 per ton, which would be higher than most of its neighbors but still well below the level believed necessary to contain climate change.
Environment Minister Chang Tzi-chin said it was possible the government could set the levy -- described by Taiwan as a carbon fee -- at NT$300 ($9.54) per ton of emissions in response to questions from lawmakers on Wednesday. Chang cautioned the final price would only be set after revisions to the climate change act and consultation with key industries.
With new climate-change legislation working its way through the legislature, Taiwan is set to join a growing number of governments around Asia that are putting prices on carbon in an effort to meet net-zero emissions targets by the middle of the century. The island’s tax would be below South Korea’s, but significantly higher than similar levies in Japan and Singapore.
Almost 50 countries worldwide are now pricing carbon through trading schemes or taxes, covering around a third of emissions, according to the International Monetary Fund. The average price of a ton of carbon-dioxide equivalent needs to be around $75 by 2030 to effectively limit global warming, but the current level is $6, the lender said.
See also: Carbon Prices in Asia Are Too Cheap to Help Curb Emissions
With substantial refining, plastics and cement industries and most of its electricity coming from coal- and gas-fired power plants, Taiwan is one of Asia’s highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis, according to Germanwatch, a non-profit organization that tracks global climate risks.
Asia’s carbon markets and taxes have mostly fallen short of making a meaningful impact on the environment. Japan, the first in the region to impose a national carbon tax in 2012, set its levy at just 289 yen ($2) per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. Singapore’s tax is S$5 ($3.52) per ton, while in South Korea it’s 25,400 won ($18.11), around a quarter of the level in the European Union.
Tracy Cheng, a campaigner for Greenpeace in Taipei, said a fee of NT$300 per ton should be within the acceptable range for companies.
“If Taiwan begins at NT$300 per ton and increases the fee by 10% every year, while also making good use of the revenue from the levy for other investments, it can generate nearly an additional 1% of GDP growth by 2045 and reduce carbon emissions by 36%,” she said via test message. “That will bring significant benefits in moving toward net zero.”
Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration will first target large emitters with annual carbon emissions exceeding 25,000 tons with petrochemical, steel, cement, and electronics manufacturers likely to be most affected, Cheng said.
(Updated to add comments from Greenpeace from 7th paragraph.)
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