Demonic possession, typhoid, infantile convulsions and impotence. These are some of the ailments traditional Chinese medical practitioners in Taiwan and China believed ground rhinoceros horn could cure, which helped push the animal to the brink of extinction in the 1980s.
At the time, Taiwanese officials and doctors ignored calls from the international community to ban the sale of rhinoceros horns, using as an excuse the fact that Taiwan wasn’t a member of the international organization calling for its prohibition.
For Calvin Wen (溫炳原), a member of Green Party Taiwan’s central executive committee, the above example is useful as an analogy when discussing climate change.
“Most of global society has a target [to reduce climate change]. Because Taiwan is not a UN member it is very common for government officials and even some scholars to say they don’t have to take any measures to reduce [carbon] emissions,” he said.
Taiwan’s refusal to eliminate the importation of rhinoceros horns led the Clinton administration to impose sanctions on Taiwan — the first time the US had used trade sanctions to protect the environment. Wen fears that if Taiwan’s business and political leaders don’t act to reduce the island’s carbon emissions, a similar scenario might play out.
A group of civic organizations including the Green Party are organizing a march and festival tomorrow to highlight the need for Taiwan to reduce carbon emissions. The march begins at 1:30pm at Taiwan Democracy Hall’s Liberty Square (自由廣場) and will proceed first to the Presidential Office and then to Da-an Forest Park (大安森林公園), where a music concert is scheduled to start at 3pm.
1. Impose carbon taxes immediately and cut income tax
2. Taiwan is not short of energy. Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change
3. Roads for bicycles. No more new highways
4. Eat with love for the Earth. Localize the economy
5. Stop giving Taiwan’s national assets to corporate thieves
source: Calvin Wen, Green Party Taiwan
“Civil society has done a lot to cut carbon emissions,” he said. “But we still think that the government should do more with their policy.”
Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, has sent a delegation to Poznan, Poland, to take part in an intergovernmental meeting for drawing up a new agreement to reduce global warming to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Wen, however, remains skeptical. He cites a litany of examples that illustrate how the government puts business interests before the environment, with the Suhua Highway project, Formosa Plastics steel plant and, most recently, the consumer voucher scheme being the most glaring examples.
“They could have at least encouraged green consumption,” he said of the vouchers.
The Climate Change, Taiwan Cares march and festival (對抗地球暖化－台灣行動) begins tomorrow at 1:30pm at Taiwan Democracy Hall’s Liberty Square (自由廣場) and will proceed first to the Presidential Office and then to Da-an Forest Park (大安森林公園) where a concert will be held. For more information, visit tw-climatecampaign.blogspot.com.