Bul­lied but Never Beaten

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

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.

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