The historic UN climate talks in Copenhagen have good intentions, yet set a perfect example of how an indecisive assembly can end up being eco-unfriendly.
Developed countries should feel duty-bound to ease concerns raised by developing countries at the summit and show a firm commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Otherwise the summit will collapse and the divide between developed and developing countries will grow even wider.
Unfortunately, it seems very unlikely that a new climate change deal enabling a concerted effort to fight global warming will be struck before the summit ends on Friday.
Nevertheless, the Copenhagen talks have shed some light on the urgency with which the world must deal with its inerasable carbon footprint. Alternative and clean energy sources will provide the best solution, and the world is already starting to feel the pinch, which should spur some delegates into action.
That bodes well for Taiwanese high-tech industries, some of which have invested in the solar energy sector — particularly solar panels and batteries — for more than a decade and the light-emitting-diode (LED) industry for almost three decades. Hit by the global recession, the local LED industry may suffer a 6 percent decline in total output value to NT$50.8 billion (US$1.6 billion) this year — still the world’s second-largest, after Japan — from NT$53.9 billion last year, according to the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center.
As more countries, including Taiwan, start to replace traditional street lamps with energy-saving LEDs, a replacement wave may soon be triggered.
The nation’s solar energy industry is growing quickly and is expected to reach an output value of NT$450 billion in 2015 from NT$101.1 billion last year and NT$53.5 billion in 2007, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council has said.
The potential of solar batteries is burgeoning, and can only grow as breakthroughs are made in creating cheaper batteries with shorter charging times, increased capacity and longer life cycles.
Rechargeable lithium-iron batteries — a newer kind of battery used to harness solar energy — may be the answer for now, although further technological innovations are likely to follow.
As a local lithium-iron battery manufacturer put it: “With the revolutionary lithium-iron batteries, which are highly efficient in power storage, Taiwan can help replace existing power grids anywhere in the world.”
It is in such a world that business opportunities will emerge for local companies, enabling Taiwan to give something back to the international community. This is all the more important given that Taiwan’s progress in cutting emissions this year deteriorated to 47th among 57 countries with the world’s largest carbon dioxide emissions, the latest Climate Change Performance Index showed.
Cost will be another major concern. Unless consumers fully commit to energy-saving products to spur demand, it will be difficult to reduce manufacturing costs to make them more affordable.
So those shopping for electronic gadgets should pay extra attention to energy-saving features, for the sake of saving money and the environment.
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