In March EU governments agreed to phase out the sale of traditional light bulbs in the EU by 2009. From then, EU citizens will have to use low-energy light bulbs.
Across the EU the measure will reduce carbon emissions by 20 million tonnes each year. In the UK it will save energy equivalent to the output of a medium-sized power station. Low energy light bulbs are already widely available in Taiwan. If every Taiwanese household replaced its five most frequently used lights with low energy bulbs they would not only save money on electricity bills but also take Taiwan a long way towards the emission goals the legislature has agreed.
Taiwan's government is already taking steps to reduce emissions from transport, especially by promoting the development and use of biodiesel.
But Taiwan also has an impressive public transport system -- a clean and efficient MRT in Taipei, the magnificent new high speed railway between Taipei and Kaohsiung and new faster trains on the east coast line. Using these just once or twice each month instead of traveling by car could achieve a similar impact in reducing emissions to the plans for biodiesel. Using buses for shorter journeys would have a similar effect.
Tainan County and Taipei City have led the way in requiring drivers of public service vehicles to switch off their engines if stationery for more than three minutes.
Again, if we all followed suit, or even reduced the idling time to no more than two minutes, it would have a minimal impact on our comfort, but the savings in fuel emissions (and in our fuel costs) would be significant.
There are almost countless ways in every day life too where, simply by all of us changing our habits, we could achieve major reductions in energy use without any inconvenience to ourselves. Some examples:
Unplug your mobile phone charger. Even if your phone is fully charged these can consume up to 100KW of electricity a day.
Switch off TVs, VCRs and DVDs when not in use rather than leaving them on standby, where they can use up to 85 percent of the energy used when switched on.
Switch off photocopiers at the end of the day. A photocopier left on overnight uses enough energy to produce over 1,500 copies.
Switch off computer monitors when not in use -- a computer monitor switched off overnight saves enough energy to microwave six meals.
Climate change will affect all of us. All of us therefore need to act to limit its impact. We can do so. But we need to start now.
Michael Reilly is director of the British Trade and Cultural Office.