Tue, Dec 08, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

The impact of Copenhagen

The aspiration of the Copenhagen summit on climate change has served as a timely environment education for all. This invaluable issue reminds me of the film 2012. In the film, the spaceships, being like Noah’s ark, were built to help people escape from a massive flood. Will this scenario really happen some day?

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2007 that sea levels were rising worldwide. What has caused the rise? Melting of mountain glaciers and small ice caps is a primary factor. The pumping of underground water for human use may be a related factor.

The melting of polar ice sheets and the crisis of polar bears’ looming extinction have drawn people’s attention to the issue of climate change. What is it that causes the climate to change? In the Industrial Revolution, machines replaced workers. Since then, the burning of fossil fuels has resulted in emissions of aerosols. The composition of the atmosphere changed because of the addition of greenhouse gases and aerosols. “The changes in the atmosphere have likely influenced temperature, precipitation, storms and sea level,” the IPCC said in 2007.

It is encouraging that the UK and France gave their backing to a global fund. It would provide billions of dollars for the next three years to poor countries to help them fight deforestation and reduce the output of greenhouse gases linked to climate change. (“UK, France back climate change fund,” Nov. 29, page 6). US President Barack Obama will go to the Copenhagen summit to offer the first US plan to cut carbon emissions. (“Obama to make climate pledge,” Nov. 17, page 7) It is a serious subject that we could not ignore. It is also inspiring that effective measures have been taken through a global consensus.

It is urgent that everyone contributes to the protection of the earth with every possible effort.

IRENE WANG

Taipei

As Taiwan is not a UN member, it cannot attend the Copenhagen Climate Summit in its official capacity because of China’s opposition. Since 1971, Beijing has been trying to restrict Taiwan’s international and diplomatic space by adopting a zero-sum approach to the issue of diplomatic recognition.

In the past, Taiwan has relied on aid diplomacy to gain and hold on to diplomatic allies. This approach has limited utility, as demonstrated by Taiwan’s experience with Eastern European states such as Macedonia after the end of the Cold War and the Solomon Islands’ fiasco in 2006. Furthermore, aid diplomacy is unlikely to allow Taiwan to gain support from developed Western states since they do not need such assistance.

Capitalizing on the euphoria associated with the end of the Cold War, Taiwan made use of its democratic credentials to differentiate itself from China by promoting democracy in the Asia-Pacific region by setting up the Taiwan Foundation of Democracy and starting journals such as the Taiwan Journal of Democracy. This approach, however, has not resulted in any concrete gains for Taiwan, since as Robert Kagan puts it, “History has returned.” The Beijing consensus has a lot more attraction for developing states in Asia and Africa than Taiwan’s push for democracy.

In order for Taiwan to remain relevant, it needs to have a new value proposition that appeals to international society. Aid diplomacy is not working. Democracy promotion does not endear Taiwan to states that are most likely to remain or become its diplomatic allies.

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