From Good COP*… to Better Partners

“[The United States acting] alone cannot reach the essential goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. We have to work together.”

– AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk in April 22 remarks at the American Innovation Center.

Notable in our era of profound polarization, partnership was the refrain across Taiwan and the globe on Earth Day 2022. But given the enormity of the climate challenge, is even aggressive partnering enough? I want to touch on five levels of partnership underpinning Taiwan’s newly codified campaign for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

First comes the partnership of technologies. The climate crisis, complicated 100-fold by energy market disruptions out of Europe, place us in a predicament calling for all-of-society mobilization and “all-of-the-above” technology utilization: renewables, electrification, conservation and demand management, smart grids, nuclear, and carbon capture. The Tsai Administration’s recently released net-zero roadmap arrives at a critical time, sending the right signals in its balanced support for “green electricity” through renewables and very low-carbon electricity produced through thermal energy paired with carbon capture. The Renewable Energy Certification (T-REC) mechanism has created a robust green energy economy, and similar certification is possible for utilities and industrials that adopt low-carbon processes.

Providing further impetus is a phased carbon tax rate plan that favors big emitters who mitigate. It was passed by the Executive Yuan on April 21 and is expected to take effect in 2024 or 2025.

My second partnership is the one between AmCham member companies and companies and consumers in Taiwan. On Earth Day an alliance of 13 firms formed the Carbon Capture and Storage Alliance (the Alliance). Anchoring it were four technology leaders who are also Chamber members: Air Products Sanfu, Bechtel (and associate, PECL), ExxonMobil, and GE. As a Chamber we are committed to energy and climate solutions. This is driven by our Sustainable Development Goals Committee, our White Paper recommendations, and reporting in this magazine.

My third partnership is that between Taiwan and the U.S. This is a relationship that has proven its worth over the seven decades of AmCham’s existence, back to 1951 when a predecessor firm of ExxonMobil was one of five founding members. We laud not only the durability of this relationship but also its mutuality and complementarity. Our deep investment in the relationship was reflected in our co-production of Taiwan Matters for America, America Matters for Taiwan, a nutshell treatment of this mighty bilateral partnership that we are rolling out this quarter.

My fourth partnership is that between the public and private realms. One provides the direction, rules, pump-priming, and incentives; the other provides the profit-sustained, market-driven resources and innovation. It was a boost to start Earth Day by witnessing the birth of the private Alliance with – crucially – the symbolic support of U.S., UK, and Canadian officials, and a liaison from Taiwan’s Ministry of Science & Technology. I look forward to a full private-public partnership on carbon capture.

In fact, AmCham plans to seek out commercially relevant PPP’s wherever we will add value. A case in point is the promising Technology Trade & Investment Collaboration, or TTIC framework, which looks to build stronger supply chains through two-way investment and under which the U.S. Commerce Department and Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade began path-breaking work last December.

We will support a coming PPP known as the Asia-Pacific Public-Private-Partnership Roundtable, at which we will address other dimensions of the climate conversation. The roundtable will bring together speakers from the political level in the U.S. and Taiwan, federal and state officials, central government partners, the NGO community, the regional business community, academics, and youth.

Finally, my fifth partnership is often referred to as more of a “compact,” but it is the partnering of current and future generations. We remember four years ago when a lone 15-year-old girl, Greta Thunberg, inspired the global youth climate strikes. She raised her voice to ask, “When will climate aspirations become meaningful climate actions?” The cutting-edge technologies of the Alliance represent that commitment – that final and most critical partnership: the inter-generational.

*“COP” is the acronym used for the UN’s annual climate summit, the 27th of which will be held in November in Egypt.

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