Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Joining UN would help fight global warming

By Morgan Huang 黃之棟

Because the changing climate has contributed to the growing frequency of natural disasters all over the world, governments and media in most countries have started paying closer attention to global warming, which will be the biggest challenge for mankind this century.

Yet when faced with this problem, Taiwan -- from the nation's leaders down to the grassroots level -- consistently shows a lack of interest.

Research shows that carbon dioxide emissions here have grown at least 134 percent over the past 50 years, compared to a worldwide increase of 16 percent.

Average emissions here now exceed 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year per person, or three times the world average. At a time of global calls for a reduction in emissions, this increase is quite shocking.

The reason the nation doesn't care about the increase in carbon dioxide emissions goes back to its exclusion from the UN.

As it is not a UN member, Taiwan is not subject to UN restrictions and is under no obligation to reduce its emissions levels.

As the nation is unable to participate as a member in UN activities, most Taiwanese usually do not concern ourselves with international affairs and it becomes commonplace to think that these matters are not applicable here.

Another reason for the attitude toward climate change is that because the nation has been excluded from international organizations, Taiwanese have become suspicious of these world bodies.

But even though the nation cannot officially participate as a member of the international community -- and also for the sake of our children and grandchildren -- Taiwan should not ignore climate change.

Of course, helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and being an ethical and environmentally conscious person is not as easy as it may seem.

Although it is true that some small actions can help the environment, such actions only have a very limited influence on decreasing carbon dioxide emission levels.

If we don't consider changes in lifestyle or actively use alternative non-carbon based energy sources, any attempt to reach the goal of decreasing emissions by 20 percent per person will be doomed to failure.

On the other hand, if the international community is serious about attaining the ultimate goal of controlling global warming, it must stop acting as if Taiwan, now a major source of emissions, does not exist.

Instead, a space should be created to give all countries that feel the impact of international policies -- Taiwan included -- the opportunity to effectively participate in international policy making.

The nation should be allowed to participate with and communicate with international organizations in order to combat climate change. That is the only way we will be able to find a solution to the problem of global warming.

Morgan Huang is a doctoral candidate at the School of Social and Political Studies of the University of Edinburgh.

Translated by Anna Stiggelbout

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