Our PM is off again globe-trotting to places afar, including Taiwan and Bonn, where the world environment will once again be discussed, yet again without the benefit of Taiwanese expertise and support. I hope our PM makes it clear to the world at this forum, that the Global Family should be ashamed of itself for its treatment of our best and most important ally. After all, what other message does he have to deliver? Saint Lucia’s impact on climate change is infinitesimally insignificant even if we subscribe to the efforts of every Small Island State the world over. Taiwan, on the other hand, has been a major polluter but it is doing something about it.
Taiwan has been unfairly left out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change even though this island nation has independently taken bold steps to fight climate change. In 1995, the world adopted the Kyoto Protocol which included legally binding emission reduction targets for developed countries. Despite being excluded, Taiwan has persevered in its efforts to improve the world’s climate. Taiwan has experienced firsthand the effects of climate change. In recent years, the temperature in the capital Taipei reached 38.7 degrees Celsius, the highest in 100 years. Traditional weather patterns of steady rains have been replaced by torrential downpours and flash floods, matching extreme weather events around the globe.
The Taiwan Climate Change Projection and Information Platform Project, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has revealed that Taiwan’s average temperature rose over the past century at a rate of 1.1 to 1.6 degrees Celsius, far exceeding the global average of 0.8 degrees Celsius. Over the last 30 years, Taiwan’s temperature has risen by 0.29 degrees Celsius per decade, much faster than the global average of 0.07 degrees per decade.
Climate is influenced by a vast and intricately complex array of factors, with considerable seasonal, annual, and even decadal variability. Taiwan and the entire East Asia region is warming faster than other parts of the world due, in part, to the weakening of the East Asian Summer Monsoon that brings moist air from the Pacific to the region. Heavier but more erratic rainfalls and typhoons can have significant impact on Taiwan’s fragile, mountainous landscape, with landslides a common and deadly occurrence. In August 2009 Typhoon Morakot dumped over 2,500 millimeters of rainfall on parts of southern Taiwan, causing ruinous landslides that buried the entire village of Xiaolin, killing hundreds.
Taiwan, a nation of 23 million, the world’s 22nd-largest economy, and the 22nd-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has a stake in the global effort to fight climate change. Despite not being a UNFCCC member, Taiwan began working independently on a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back in 1998 and is one of only a few countries in the world that has passed its own law reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015 Taiwan took action by enacting the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, demonstrating its determination to regulate greenhouse gases and its goal of cutting carbon emission to 50 percent of the 2005 level by 2050. Taiwan is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from the business-as-usual level of 428 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 214 million tonnes, by 2030.
Taiwan, for political reasons of appeasement towards China, has not been allowed to work with the UNFCCC Secretariat, leaving an important part of global emissions unaccounted for, and making it more difficult to close the gap between projected and desired temperature increase. Taiwan has developed green technologies for reducing greenhouse gases that can be shared with other countries. Over the decades, Taiwan has undertaken numerous co-operative projects with developing countries in a wide array of fields related to climate change, including renewable energy, LED street lighting, environmental protection, and so on. Taiwan has partnered with the United States in the Global Co-operation and Training Framework, through which both sides share financial resources and expertise with other countries in combatting various future challenges, including global warming. By becoming part of UNFCCC, Taiwan could increase the impact of its contributions.
By not being included as a member of the UNFCCC, Taiwan is being left to face climate impact on its own which contradicts the UNFCCC principle that calls for “the widest possible co-operation” in combatting global warming challenges. As a significant global economic actor and a pioneer in green technology, Taiwan and its 23 million people deserve a seat at this vital climate forum. It is time to carry out the UNFCCC’s utmost goal for the sake of human welfare by welcoming Taiwan in the global efforts to curb climate change.