Taiwan businesses urged to shine on global ESG stage

Vyra Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

As the urgency of addressing climate change and sustainability issues grows, companies face increasing pressure to adopt comprehensive carbon strategies and embrace ESG principles.

Dr. Shr-Yi Chin, an expert in environmental sustainability and carbon management, emphasizes the need for proactive carbon measures despite significant costs. He urges Taiwanese businesses to elevate their carbon reduction strategies internationally, advocating for a shift from merely reporting emissions to actively promoting their ESG efforts globally.

Chin suggests Taiwanese firms take advantage of NGO channels to raise their profile at UN climate forums such as COP28. While Taiwan is not a UN member state, NGOs can still participate and make their voice heard globally. Companies can highlight their carbon-neutral goals and sustainability efforts on this international stage.

"Broadcasting at UN events carries much more weight than just news releases," stated Chin. "Clients and supply chains will take notice when you declare your environmental commitment to the world." The strategy counters the prevailing attitude in Taiwan of just checking boxes on emissions reporting rather than substantive promotion of green practices, according to Chin. He believes the costs of marketing sustainability globally will ultimately pay off through greater recognition and new business opportunities.

Major Taiwanese firms such as Foxconn and logistics giants have already utilized UN platforms to announce carbon-neutral targets and environmental programs. However, many other companies, especially in carbon-intensive industries such as electronics manufacturing, can benefit from raising their ESG profile internationally. While the international approach requires investment, Chin argues: "If enterprises promote themselves on the global stage, more resources will focus on them, saving costs on employee training and marketing domestically."

Government policies play a pivotal role in shaping corporate strategies for carbon management. Dr. Chin discussed how different regions have varying regulatory frameworks, which can either facilitate or hinder corporate efforts. For instance, he mentioned the European Union's stringent carbon pricing and trading systems compared to the more flexible approaches in other regions.

"The EU's carbon pricing can be as high as US$100 per ton, which places significant pressure on companies," Dr. Chin noted. "In contrast, the United States has been slower to implement stringent measures, allowing companies more time to adapt."​​​​

Dr. Chin also discussed the complexities of participating in the international carbon credit market. He pointed out that many companies are looking beyond their national borders to adopt carbon offset projects, often under the auspices of the United Nations. However, this process is fraught with challenges, including navigating international regulations and avoiding fraudulent schemes.

"Taiwanese companies, for example, face numerous hurdles in their domestic market and often turn to international projects," he explained. "However, they must be cautious of fraudulent operations and ensure they engage in legitimate carbon credit transactions"​​.

For companies aiming to improve their carbon management practices, he emphasized the importance of comprehensive carbon accounting and the integration of carbon strategies into overall business operations. In addition, he highlighted the need for companies to invest in green (forest-based) and blue (ocean-based) carbon projects, which offer different advantages and can be more rapidly implemented.

The development of carbon sinks is critically important in mitigating climate change. Carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, absorb more carbon dioxide than they release, helping to offset greenhouse gas emissions. "Building carbon sinks is an endeavor we must undertake to align with international standards and regulations."

"Corporates should not only focus on carbon neutrality but also strive to develop their carbon sinks," he advised. "This involves a mix of green and blue carbon projects, each providing unique benefits and faster results in some cases."​

By raising awareness and educating stakeholders about the benefits and methodologies of carbon sink development, companies can foster a more supportive environment for these initiatives.