Wed, Dec 08, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Officials seek input at Kyoto talks

GREENHOUSE GASES Officials said that the country needs up-to-date strategies on reducing emission levels, especially in its neighboring rivals and other island nations

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AP

Taiwan will closely monitor discussions at the 10th annual conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Buenos Aires, paying special attention to how the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is applied to the country's competitors such as Japan and South Korea, environmental and economics officials said yesterday.

Environmental experts and government policy-makers from nearly 200 countries on Monday began discussing the future of the fight against global warming at the conference on climate change.

The annual UN-sponsored gathering is the last conference before the Feb. 16 implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, a landmark agreement requiring 30 of the world's developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.

Thousands of participants in the two-week meeting will be looking at new methods of limiting heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and developing strategies to persuade more nations to curb their greenhouse emissions.

"Strategies for further reduction of emissions will become clearer at the meeting. Taiwan has to know what kind of responsibility other newly-industrialized countries will shoulder after 2012," Lin Ta-hsiung (林達雄), deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), told the Taipei Times yesterday.

A Taiwanese delegation will attend the conference, which draws to a close on Dec. 17, under the auspices of the EPA.

Senior officials from the EPA and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, including Lin and the Industrial Development Bureau's Deputy Director General Kuo Nien-hsiung (郭年雄), will head for Argentina later this week to seek ways of protecting the environment while ensuring the economic development of Taiwan.

Officials of the bureau's Sustainable Development Division told the Taipei Times yesterday that Taiwan has to be fully aware of strategies adopted by Japan, which has a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 6 percent of 1990 levels by 2012.

The approach Japan takes could point the way for Taiwan in boosting its economic competitiveness while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bureau officials said that Taiwan will have to pay attention to discussions on the allocation of expertise and funds in newly industrialized countries, as well as countries with rapid economic growth, such as South Korea, China, India and Mexico.

They said that South Korea faces a bigger challenge than Taiwan, because it is ranked the world's ninth-largest producer of greenhouse gases, while Taiwan is ranked 22nd.

The officials said that Taiwan especially needs to learn more about how the Kyoto Protocol would apply to island countries, which are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and rising sea levels.

Global warming has been blamed for more violent storms, rising sea levels and shrinking animal habitats.

Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), an atmospheric sciences professor at National Taiwan University, said a lot of research on climate change still needs to be done in Taiwan.

"Waiting for solid research results on the local impact of climate change could take a long time. Adjusting industrial structures and encouraging energy conservation to avoid negative social and economic impacts are urgent," Hsu said.

Meanwhile, the availability of visas for some delegation members, including high-ranking officials, remains uncertain. Argentina's Trade and Cultural Office yesterday declined to respond to a query from the Taipei Times, saying that information about its issuance of visas is confidential.

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