Global Warming, EU-Taiwan Relationships and Public-Private Partnership.

by on Thursday, 23 October 2008 Comments
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am most honored to participate in the workshop you are holding today on the eve of the international conference on “Taiwan culture vs. global warming.” I am fully conscious of the importance of our meeting: it shows that, as elected officials and public servants, you do not want to remain at the level of general declarations and public relations events; you really wish to translate environmental awareness into public policies and well-conceived, innovative projects. In order to do so, you are indeed encouraging cross-cultural initiatives and international cooperation, especially with Europe. As chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, your invitation is for me an encouragement, and it acts also as a reminder: International companies tend to work primarily with ministries and other national agencies. They may sometimes forget that Taiwan is also home to a vibrant local democracy, and that the counties, cities and townships are the primary movers when it comes to infrastructures, to citizens’ education and, to designing the face of Taiwan for the decades to come. This is especially true for Taipei County, home to more than 3,700,000 inhabitants, the most populated area in Taiwan, and certainly one of the most engaged into sustainable development and innovative planning.

My talk will be divided into two parts: First, a word about Taiwan and EU relationships in the light of the challenge created by global warming and, more generally, by the shift towards a more sustainable model of development. Then, I will concentrate on the implications of this cultural shift when it comes to partnership between the public and the private sector.

Global Warming, the EU and Taiwan

A solid body of evidences shows that climate changes are somehow related to human activities, that some of these changes may have dangerous implications in not too distant a future, and that we are able indeed to mitigate part of this trend of its undesirable effects. This pleads for a renewed model of global governance, in which Taiwan, rich of its technological and cultural traditions, is called and entitled to play an active role.

The Copenhagen Convention on Climate Change that will take place in November 2009 will gather the international community to agree on a new blueprint that will enlarge the agreements already reached at Kyoto and through various international treaties and conventions. The European Union and its member states will take leading positions at the Conference to produce an international commitment which hopefully will also include the commitments from the USA and China for drastic reductions in greenhouse gases that are indeed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

However, the European Union has not been waiting for a new conference to take place in Copenhagen or anywhere else to play a leading role in fostering a more pro-active policy against global warming. Europe is today the world leader in renewable energy. The development of renewable energy - particularly energy from wind, water, solar power and biomass - is a central aim of the European Commission’s energy policy. As part of Kyoto-protocol efforts to curb carbon emissions, the European Commission has pledged that renewable sources will make up 22% of Europe’s energy supply by the end of this decade, up from 14% in 1997.

In the area of greenhouse gas emissions, the EU has set the most ambitious targets in the world. The EU will reduce its energy consumption by 20% before 2020. Furthermore, the EU is offering to take even bolder steps and cut its emission by 30% if other countries join in this ambition. The policies designed for reaching these goals go through a mix of regulatory caps on emissions, caps that are progressively toughened, research for alternative and renewable sources of energy, and the implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, a market-based instrument aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
As examples of successful implementation of the European Commission energy policy, Denmark is flanked by some 5400 wind turbines, supplying 28% of its electricity. Renewable sources of energy installed throughout Germany now produce nearly 14% of German electricity consumption up from 6.3 percent in 2000. It is worth mentioning that another major country in Europe, France, which is the world second largest producer of nuclear energy, is also the European Union’s leading producer of renewable energies.

Taiwan is not yet at the forefront of this battle against global warming and for a cleaner and greener world. Many statistical data’s remain preoccupying, in particular those that underline the fact that Taiwan has been the world champion when it comes to the growth of carbon dioxide emissions per capita during the last decade. However, we also have noticed that Taiwan, thanks to the vitality of its democratic debate, is not deceiving itself and is now conscious that it still has a long road to go in order not to waste energy, not to further abuse its natural resources and wants now to mobilize its whole society towards the global endeavor of sustainability. Taiwan is not yet considered as a model sustainable country, there are good reasons for it, but the most important thing is that it does intend to follow that road of redemption, and to make its commitment a landmark of its international strategy.

If all this is translated into concrete initiatives, Taiwan is sure to win the mind and hearts of the European countries, especially at a time when the EU, citizens and governments alike, are particularly anxious to know whether China will or will not take its share of the global struggle against global warming. Furthermore, collaborating with Europe on this issue is “good business” for Taiwan: first, it is clear that Europe will progressively edict a stringent set of “environmental norms” that will gravely affect the exports of the nations that would not comply with it; the recent failure of the Doha cycle testifies to the fact that the present structures of the WTO will be unable to stop this trend towards greater environmental accountability; second, global governance on climatic issues allows for a flexible frameworks of international instruments, a framework into which Taiwan might find a renewed international status and mission.

Public and Private Partnership

The international conference that will be held tomorrow establishes a strong link between cultural resources and the struggle against global warming, and it is right to emphasize such a link. From the perspective which is mine - the one of a European entrepreneur - nothing testifies more to this link than the development of a culture of “corporate social responsibility.” European companies have progressively learnt to consider themselves as “responsible corporate citizens”, understanding that such a status does not infringe on their economic mission and the laws of the market but rather ensures that the long-term interests of the collectivity, including theirs, are accounted for and play a regulatory role for discouraging reckless business conducts.
In this perspective, sustainability as a whole, including the imperatives created by the consciousness of the risks linked to global warming, are now incorporated into the strategy of a vast number of European companies. For sure, this also comes from the fact that many of them enjoy a comparative advantage in the domain of “green business” – water sanitation and urban sewage, organic food, ethical investment portfolios, ecotourism, green building materials and design, as well as indeed renewable energy production. Many companies that did not have a “sustainable” or “green’ business per se are now reformatting themselves in order to make their products and practices congruent with the common good.
What is true of Europe could be true as well of Taiwan. After all, the comparative advantage of Taiwan in IT can easily make it the world leader of “green IT technologies”, a paramount sector for the struggle against global warming as it is linked to energy, water and rare resources consumption.
Once it is clearly established that private companies in Taiwan are able and indeed want to play the role of positive and innovative actors in the struggle for a sustainable world, a world that tackles the climate challenge and other related questions, then the cooperation between the public and the private sector becomes much easier, for the benefit of all parties concerned.

However, this cooperative model still needs to be nurtured and enlarged in Taiwan – as an example, the position papers of ECCT frequently emphasize the fact that the management of public contracts in Taiwan still raises serious problems, many of them impeding Taiwan’s imperative of sustainability. Let me quote here a few issues and proposals raised by the Chamber in our recent position papers:

- Laws and regulations often hinder European companies from getting full market access; long outstanding WTO compliance issues remain unresolved such as Taiwan’s accession to the Government Procurement Agreement; the upgrading of key service sectors – in particular logistics and tourism – lacks the bold moves necessary to attract foreign participation. (On a personal note, I think that foreign expertise is absolutely necessary for transforming Taiwan’s tourism market, making it eco-friendly, efficient, attractive for tourists from China and elsewhere, and managed at a scale congruent with good business practices.)

- The national and local governments should also develop and implement a global marketing campaign to highlight Taiwan’s advantages and development potential (e.g. talent pool, education, healthcare, tourism, protection of the environment).

- Outsourcing government services to the private sector, including such services as administration, inspections, and maintenance, would greatly improve energy efficiency, environmental expertise and economies of scale.

- Even more important, the national and local governments should introduce a financially feasible tariff system to create a sizable local market for solar panels. Similarly, geothermal resources in Taiwan are plentiful; hence, the government should actively support the development of geothermal power generation through pilot projects and the mapping of Taiwan’s geothermal resources (through cooperation between local and European universities). The authorities should also re-evaluate plans for the future development of a local wind energy technology sector after unsuccessful projects in recent years. Also (even if I recognize that this issue is controversial), biofuel and biodiesel development would support local farmers and utilize contaminated farm land for the cultivation of energy crops.

- Stricter building codes and energy saving regulations would create more opportunities for the application of renewable energy in building design.

- A market based system for pricing electricity would encourage its efficient use and stimulate investment in renewable and, possibly, nuclear energy.

- Speaking on a broader scale, the government as well as the counties authorities should significantly increase the participation of the private sector in the planning and execution of infrastructure projects which, if successful, will greatly improve the creativity, quality, and cost efficiency of public infrastructure projects.

I hope to have shown that a Europe - Taiwan partnership between public and private sectors fosters indeed the cultural, technical and social inventiveness that will help Taiwan to become a leading country in the ongoing struggle against global warming and for rooting a long-term, sustainable economic model. Let me emphasize once again that local governments are key actors on this endeavor. Making its experience internationally known and continuing to learn from European experiences will help Taipei County to become a beacon of environmental planning and an innovative cultural haven. Rest assure that European companies present in Taiwan have a strong commitment to this market and intend to collaborate with Taiwan’s private and public sector so as to make the best of the cultural and ecological resources of this beautiful island and of its metropolis.
I am assured that these two days of encounters and debates will help all of us to understand better and imagine the common future that we are called to build together.

Philippe Pellegrin
CEO of CALYON Taipei Branch
Banchiao, October 3, 2008

Philippe Pellegrin

Philippe Pellegrin has been with Calyon, the Corporate and Investment Bank of the Credit Agricole Group of France, for twenty eight years in various management positions mostly based in Asia. He is since May 2005 Senior Country Officer for Calyon in Taiwan. \nPhilippe Pellegrin has been elected Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ECCT) in December 2007. He is also an international trade advisor (CCE) to the French Government. \nFor Calyon, he was previously based in Johannesburg (South Africa), where he was the Chairman of the French South African Chamber of Commerce. He has also been based in Singapore, Bangkok (Thailand), London (UK), Hong Kong and in the Middle East. \nWhile managing with success its career at Indosuez, Credit Agricole Indosuez and Calyon, Philippe has always been actively involved with many business and cultural organizations such as chambers of commerce and cultural centers (Alliance Française). \nPhilippe Pellegrin was born in Saigon, Vietnam, raised in Cambodia, France and Africa. He holds a Master degree in Applied Economics from the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.\nPhilippe was awarded by the French Government the Legion d’Honneur as a Chevalier in 1999 for services rendered abroad.

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