EPA Minister Kuo-Yen Wei led Taiwan’s delegation to participate in the Twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21). The trip was a chance for Taiwan to demonstrate its willingness to engage in carbon reduction efforts, and to exchange ideas and strategies on environmental issues with delegates from Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and other nations, thus helping to cement partnerships that will enhance the international response to climate change.
Climate change has drawn much concern around the world in recent years and the annual UNFCCC COP talks always garner broad attention. Taiwan’s starting point for these talks was its experience with voluntarily responses to climate change. Under the leadership of Minister Wei, the delegates actively participated in COP 21 and were able to tell the international community about Taiwan’s achievements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and establishing the Pan Pacific Adaptation on Climate Change (PPACC) partnerships with European and North American nations.
Taiwan Soon to Formulate Responding Climate Change Strategies
On 10 December in Paris, Minister Wei gave a speech that was broadcast online, in which he outlined some of his observations from participation in COP 21. He pointed out that participation has given Taiwan an indication of the international position that Taiwan can take in future climate response efforts, which will allow Taiwan to formulate its major climate change strategies. Taiwan will also actively seek official observer status so that its domestic environmental work can gain international visibility.
As Minister Wei pointed out, COP 21 touched upon six major topics: mitigation, adaptation, losses and damage, capacity-building, financing, technology development and transfers. The Paris conference was an opportunity for Taiwan to learn what it can do – particularly in terms of mitigation and adaptation – and to clarify its status in terms of taking on some of the workload and moving forward into the future. The outcome of the intended nationally determined contribution (INDCs) was particularly significant. The EPA will soon convene meetings with relevant ministries to discuss Taiwan’s future INDC strategy in detail.
Cooperating with Pan-Pacific Nations and MIT to Combat Climate Change
Taiwan’s starting point for discussions at COP 21 was its experience with voluntary responses to climate change. The talks were also an opportunity to build upon climate change mitigation partnerships with other pan-Pacific nations. Taiwan was also able to formally announce the PPACC – which has been two years in the making – and also the signing of a collaborative agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence.
On 6 December, Dr. Thomas W. Malone, the head of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, and his Climate CoLab team also signed a letter of intent to cooperate with the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Office. It made Taiwan the CoLab’s first overseas station in a network that will encompass other Asian nations. Climate CoLab is building a platform that will operate using the concepts of the wisdom of crowds and open data to promote climate change adaptation in the region.
Dr. Malone pointed out that the Climate CoLab had recently formed a strategic alliance with the UN, and that cooperating with Taiwan would be its first step. The successful establishment of the PPACC and the cooperation with MIT show that Taiwan is building practical regional relationships that will help to strengthen future climate change adaptation.
Minister Wei: COP 21 Highlights Enhanced Action and Taiwan Should Follow Suit
At a press conference held upon the delegation’s return to Taiwan on 12 December, Minister Wei stressed that, Taiwan has long been working hard at protecting the global environment and the passing of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act in 2015 means that Taiwan now has legally-binding long-term carbon reduction targets. The demonstration of a willingness to share the common responsibility of carbon reduction with other nations and move toward eco-friendly sustainable development has won Taiwan plaudits from developed nations in the EU and North America. Minister Wei also conveyed his gratitude for 12 diplomatic allies of Taiwan who expressed their strong support at COP21 for Taiwan being granted observer status. Another 19 nations also sent letters to the secretariat expressing the same sentiment. In addition, the Taiwan delegation also attended 17 side events at the conference to discuss future cooperative projects as well as to make Taiwan’s standpoints known.
Taiwan always has a positive and forward-looking attitude when it comes to making pledges. In addition to demonstrating its commitment to its obligations as a member of the global community, such pledges also help Taiwan gain more direct participation in international affairs and be included in the implementation of new agreements. The government sees deeper international ties as crucial to Taiwan’s sustainable future and the prosperity of future generations.
The Paris Agreement placed much emphasis on the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), which called for the formulation and implementation of concrete action plans in several areas, and that will continue to be a focus of future COPs. Minister Wei said that Taiwan should demonstrate its enthusiasm for the LPAA by formulating related strategies at an early date.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)