It’s the Law: Taiwan’s New Climate Bill Mandates Government Backing of Plant-Based Diets
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Taiwan’s new climate bill, the Climate Change Response Act, includes sweeping legislation aimed at achieving the country’s 2050 net-zero target. Chief among its requirements: promoting a low-carbon, plant-based diet.
The new bill, which passed the legislature earlier this month, aims to establish a carbon-free system for the country’s largest emitters.
Climate Change Response Act
The Climate Change Response Act enforcement, set to begin early next year, will be led by the Executive Yuan’s National Council for Sustainable Development, which is charged with coordinating with the central government and stakeholders to develop action plans including collecting carbon fees on both direct and indirect emissions and a tax on imports of carbon-intensive products.
The carbon fee system will see monies go to a Greenhouse Gas Management Fund used to subsidize corporate investments in carbon-reducing tech. It will also support costs connected to local government climate policy enforcement.
The bill also requires the promotion of low-carbon diets. Two Articles, 8 and 42, address the imperative of promoting a plant-based diet — a big shift for Taiwan’s meat-heavy culture.
Article 8 says the Council of Agriculture must promote low-carbon diets including plant-based food, locally produced food, and food waste reduction efforts. Article 42 expands to all levels of government, requiring them to promote low-carbon diets as a means of fighting climate change. It also requires governments to support civil society organization events relevant to low-carbon diets.
The measure has earned praise for addressing food’s role in climate change mitigation — the agriculture sector produces about 33 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. But others are calling for the Climate Act to be more aggressive about animal meat. The United Nations’ IPCC has repeatedly urged world leaders to look at shifting government recommendations toward more sustainable plant-based diets.
“As the world comes to grips with the importance of food systems in addressing climate change, we are delighted to see an emphasis on low-carbon diets in Taiwan’s climate legislation” said Wu Hung, chief executive of EAST, the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan.
“In light of this development we call on the Executive Yuan to re-visit its 2050 Net Zero Emissions Pathway and Strategy and take steps to address excessive meat consumption,” he added.
Edinburgh signs the Plant-Based Treaty
Taiwan’s Climate Act came just days before Edinburgh, Scotland, announced it had signed on to the Plant-Based Treaty, becoming the first European capital to join the initiative. The proposed treaty has been signed by more than 20 municipalities, including 15 in India, Haywards Heath in the U.K., as well as Los Angeles, California.
“Green councillors very much welcome the decision by Edinburgh council to endorse the Plant Based Treaty as we proposed,” said Green Councillor Steve Burgess, who first introduced the Plant Based Treaty to a Full Council Meeting in March 2022. “Edinburgh council’s leader will now be writing to the First Minister of Scotland to encourage the Scottish Government to also express support for a Plant Based Treaty to be negotiated at a global level.”
The Treaty is aimed at reducing food-related emissions generated by the animal agriculture sector including deforestation.
An impact assessment report released by Edinburgh found that diets high in plant protein and low in meat and dairy “make for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and that consequently, shifting consumption towards plant-based diets has a major mitigation potential,” reads the report. “Overall, the science is clear, meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets.”