By: Minister Chang Tzi-chin, Environmental Protection Administration of Executive Yuan, R.O.C. (Taiwan).
Concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit a historic high of 415parts per million in May 2019. The World Meteorological Organization has also released data showing that June 2019 was the hottest month in history, breaking records from New Delhi to the North Pole. As President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands, an ally of Taiwan, has urged the world, it is not worth arguing or debating whether climate change will come to pass, for it is happening right now.
As a member of the global village, Taiwan is striving to combat climate change and protect the Earth. Indeed, we are playing an indispensable part in the vital task of bequeathing a sustainable environment for future generations.
As a result of the current international political situation, Taiwan has been barred from participating in the Conference of the Parties held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Nevertheless, we continue to pursue means of making contributions to the international community. We have passed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, setting long-term goals for Taiwan’s reduction of greenhouse gases, and formulated National Climate Change Action Guidelines and a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Action Plan. We also drew up a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Emission Control Action Plan covering Taiwan’s energy, manufacturing, transportation, residential and commercial development, agricultural, and environmental sectors.
With a clearly outlined roadmap for national carbon emission reductions, the key points of this plan include promoting energy transformation; assisting manufacturers to become green, low-carbon enterprises; developing green transportation and expanding the use of low-carbon vehicles; upgrading energy-saving design standards for the exteriors of new buildings; helping livestock farms recycle biogas; and strengthening methane recycling from waste landfills and industrial wastewater. Moreover, the approval of a Greenhouse Gas Control Implementation Plan proposed by local governments shows how Taiwan is responding to climate change collectively, from a central level to a local level.
Our government has made significant progress in developing Taiwan’s renewable energy sector in recent years, actively pursuing policies designed to reduce coal-fired power generation, increase our use of natural gas, and promote green development. By 2025, we expect solar- and wind-power generation to produce 20GW and 6.9GW of electricity per year, respectively, and we are also launching numerous power-saving policies and actions under our Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program and similar initiatives. Meanwhile, our Green Finance Action Plan is focusing on such areas as finance, investment, fundraising, and talent incubation, supporting the development of the green energy sector by boosting financial incentives.
In terms of technological research and development, Taiwan’s green technology policy covers energy development, energy storage, energy-saving, and systems integration, drawing on forward-looking materials, sustainable technology, advanced energy-saving, smart systems, and similar areas to engage industry with the fruits of research in the academic world. And since the launch of our FormoSat-3 satellite in 2006, Taiwan has amassed over 10 million items of meteorological data, which it has provided, free of charge, to experts and scholars around the world for use in their scientific research. Furthermore, data gathered following this year’s launch of the FormoSat-7 satellite will now improve accuracy even further when it comes to predicting severe weather events, making a great contribution to global weather forecasting and climate change action.
Taiwan has brought together the relevant central government agencies to formulate a National Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan, constructing a resilient system that responds to eight aspects of climate change: disasters, basic infrastructure, water resources, homeland security, coastlines, energy and industry, agriculture, and health. In the field of health care, we are placing special emphasis on medical hygiene and epidemic prevention, disaster reduction, and emergency and disaster recovery capacity, safeguarding national health and prioritizing the protection of our most vulnerable citizens.
In terms of conservation, we will sustain our agricultural production resources and biodiversity, bolster monitoring and early-warning mechanisms, strengthen natural disaster rescue and insurance systems, and integrate technologies designed to boost the resilience of the agricultural, forestry, fisheries, and animal husbandry industries. We are also operating and managing nature reserves, establishing long-term ecological monitoring systems, and strengthening the conservation and appropriate use of our nation’s species and associated genetic material. All of this is aimed at safeguarding food safety and establishing sustainable agricultural practices that are well adapted to climate risks.
According to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, more than 10,000 extreme weather incidents occurred globally between 1997 and 2016, taking countless lives and destroying homes. As the world continues to face climate change crises, this global issue requires a global solution. That means that every person, as a member of our global community, must join in and search for a solution.
It is unfair for Taiwan to be excluded from international organizations on the basis of political prejudice. Our exclusion contradicts the spirit of related climate conventions, which urge all nations to work together to combat global climate change, and overlooks both the concept of climate justice emphasized in the Paris Agreement and the significance of calling on all nations to take climate action. This breach of the UN Charter weakens our international framework and harms the entire world.
Taiwan is a responsible and sincere friend to the international community and is ready to contribute. We would be pleased to share our experience in good environmental governance, disaster prevention and early-warning systems, upgrading to energy-efficient technologies, and high-tech innovation and its applications. We are striving to make the world a better place, and believe that Taiwan can be a valuable partner in the global response to climate change.
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