Taiwan can play a role in climate fight
Stephen Shen says the island is a willing partner in the global effort to cut carbon emissions
Mitigating climate change has a direct bearing on humankind's survival and poses a challenge that the global community must face together. Consequently, despite Taiwan's special status in international politics and its exclusion from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the government has joined the global movement to try to reduce carbon emissions.
For instance, Taiwan voluntarily pledged in 2010 that it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent below business-as-usual levels by 2020. This is not only in line with the principles of the convention, but is also a clear declaration of Taiwan's determination to cut emissions.
The Committee for the Promotion of Energy Conservation and Carbon Reduction, established by the Executive Yuan, has drawn up a master plan to fulfil its mandate. The plan calls for action in such areas as energy, transport, architecture and lifestyle.
This year, the government also approved adaptation guidelines covering eight major domains - disasters, essential infrastructure, water resources, land use, coastal areas, energy supply and the energy sector, agriculture and biodiversity, and health. The guidelines call for the impact and challenges of climate change to be studied, for adaptation strategies to be proposed, and for an implementation and evaluation mechanism to be established.
In addition, the government is continuing to promote the passage of a bill to reduce greenhouse gases.
In his inaugural address this year, President Ma Ying-jeou said that "developing an environment characterised by low carbon emissions and high reliance on green energy" is one of the five pillars of Taiwan's national development. It is hoped that green industry will become a new economic bright spot that brings employment and growth, so that Taiwan can gradually become a "low-carbon, green-energy island". Confronted with the daunting challenges that climate change presents, Taiwan's public and private sectors are joining forces towards that goal.
Saving energy and reducing carbon are not just abstract concepts in Taiwan. Indeed, they have become part of everyday life. Confronted with the severe challenges of climate change, the international community should take seriously Taiwan's bid to meaningfully participate in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and include Taiwan in its mutual assistance system.
We are willing to share the fruits of our hard work in environmental protection with the international community, particularly with those countries that need our help the most.
Stephen Shu-hung Shen is minister of Environmental Protection Administration, Republic of China (Taiwan)