Protecting Our Planet through Climate Action on Multiple Fronts

[14-11-2017 03:50 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Minister Lee Ying-yuan - Climate change is a scientific fact, and its effects are already being distinctly felt around the world, threatening human health,the places we inhabit, and the sustainability of our socioeconomic systems.

This includes Taiwan, whichthis year alone has experienced several extreme weather events. In early June, SanzhiDistrict inNew Taipei City, northern Taiwan, received 615 mm of heavy rain in justnine hours, while the mountainous regions around Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan received a record1,446 mm in total.In late July, two typhoons (Nesat and Haitang) struck the island in close succession, a rarely seen event resulting in a record 690mm of rainfall in the southern coastal region of Pingtung'sJiadongtownshipover a three-day period. This long-duration high-intensity rainbroke records and causedserious property damage. Then, in August, northern Taiwan suffereda heatwave with sustained temperatures of above 37°C, surpassing all heatwaves recorded over the last 100 years. International scientific reports have also confirmed that average global temperatures in 2016 were the hottest on record.

These examples offer irrefutable evidence thatclimate change is real and already happening, with dire consequences. However, we must not feel all is lost. Rather, we must recognize that the planet’swellbeing is inextricably linked to humanity’s survival,and seize the opportunity totransform the way we live through direct actions.

Taiwan, an island nation, is heavily exposed to theworst effectsof climate change. In response to global calls for climate action, we haveintroduced the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, and formulatedthe National Climate Change Action Guidelines on how tocontrol and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the subsequent Greenhouse Gas Reduction Action Plan targets six major areas—energy, manufacturing, transportation, residential and commercial property, agriculture, and the environment—with over 200 policy initiatives, manyof them cross-ministerial. The Guidelines also call for regular five-year reviews to ensureeffective management.

In order to build capacity for clean energy generation in Taiwan and improve air quality, the government has set an ambitious target of an overall energy mix of20 percentrenewables and50 percent natural gas,with coal dropping to 30 percent, by 2025. Similarly, ithas amended the Electricity Act to spur the development of green energy, adopted the Energy Development Guidelinesand,through public participation, developed the Energy Transformation White Paper to help accelerate the transition.It also providesincentives,such asthose involving financing, investment capital, funding channels, and personnel training, to enlist the help of business and industry in developing green energy technologies.

In short, Taiwan is doing all it can to combat climate changein line with the Paris Agreement, and is striving to cutcarbon emissionsto 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.

In theendless pursuit of economic development, societies the world over have madeexcessiveuse of fossil fuels and squandered Earth's natural resources.We are paying a heavy price today with not only climate change, but also serious environmental destruction and pollution. Taiwan’sefforts over the years to promote recycling and waste reduction has caught the world’s attention. In May 2016, the Wall Street Journalpublished an article entitled “Taiwan: The World's Geniuses of Garbage Disposal.” It pointsout thatTaiwan, once dubbed Garbage Island, has since become a recycling poster child, ranking among the top three countries in the world for its initiatives topromote a circular economy. These include creatingan industrial value chain, setting upspecial circular economy zones,and exploringbusiness opportunities tomake the necessary industrial transformation. It is hoped that,by 2022, Taiwan will have become a circular economy hub in Asia, with a healthy regenerative economy that can continue to grow while reducingwaste, and help light the way towards a sustainable world.

Leaders aroundthe world, including the Pope, are increasingly calling for more to be done to combat the threats brought by climate change. The leader of Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen, has pledged that this countrywill be an unrelentingly positive force in pursuing the solutions so desperately needed to preserve our planet for future generations. Through bilateral agreements and multilateral cooperation, Taiwan hasfor a long time now quietly gone about fulfilling its role as a responsible member of the international community. We want nothing more than to work with other countries,and do all that can be done to tackle climate change. We will happilyshare our experience and knowledge in environmental protection, particularlywith thosecountries that really need help. Taiwan wants to be a contributor to the green energy policies, green industries, and green employment we must to protectour planet.

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