Tue, Apr 15, 2014 - Page 1 News List

US Cabinet-level official on visit

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, second from right, listens to students at Jian-An Elementary School in New Taipei City yesterday morning explain how they fixed a broken faucet and made soap with recycled waste.

Photo: CNA

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday attended the establishment of an international environmental partnership program in Taipei and spoke about fighting global climate change.

McCarthy’s two-day visit to Taiwan began early yesterday morning, at the campus of Jian-An Elementary School in New Taipei City, where she visited the school’s low-carbon classroom and eco-pond, and learned how students made soap with recycled waste.

She also watched as children from the Jian-an school and Ben Franklin school in New Jersey solved problems together through videolink.

She said that seeing the partnership between them “captures the essence of our broader partnership,” and that “environmental education reminds us of the interconnectedness of our global community.”

McCarthy later met with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at the Presidential Office, where she witnessed the establishment of Taiwan’s International Environmental Partnership program, announced by Environment Protection Administration Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥).

Sharing environmental protection experience, expertise and knowledge with the world is very valuable and important, McCarthy said, adding that the US and Taiwanese agencies have worked closely together for the past 20 years, and the US is now honored to become a founding partner of the program.

McCarthy delivered a short speech at National Taiwan University, remarking on the 20 years of US-Taiwan partnerships on environmental issues, and stressing the importance of working together globally to fight the threats of climate change.

She also addressed the importance of environmental education.

“Today, Taipei is renowned as one of Asia’s most livable cities,” she said. “But we all know that it’s not enough to fight pollution locally. Pollution is blind to borders. In an increasingly interconnected world, our shared challenge is clear. It demands a unified response.”

She said that since signing a cooperative agreement in 1993, Taiwan and the US have exchanged expertise on air and water quality, chemical safety, soil contamination, e-waste recycling and more, but today many environmental and health challenges have persisted and become more complex, and call for continued cooperation.

Giving examples of devastating weather events caused by global climate change that are becoming more frequent and powerful, such as Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, McCarthy said these events are a threat to our safety and our economies, and need more commitment and cooperation

“From temperature changes and more disease-carrying insects to diminished crop yields and increased storms and floods, we are all vulnerable to the unfolding risks of a changing climate,” she said, adding that the impact of climate change will be different around the world, but “no one is immune.”

“The United States is firmly committed to joining with Taiwan and economies around the world in supporting research and taking action to address climate change,” she said, adding that last year a team of US EPA experts came to Taipei to integrate Taiwan into its “Air Now” air quality monitoring system.

She told the students that “knowledge will empower you and us to address regional challenges and turn them into economic opportunities,” and that “pollution doesn’t stop at borders — so neither can education.”

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