The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) confirmed that Taiwanese cities and companies can apply to join the newly established Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), opening a new way for Taiwan's future participation in the global campaign against climate change.
UNEP unveiled CN Net at the 10th Special Session of the Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environmental Forum in Monaco earlier this month, aiming at "catalyzing a transition to a low-carbon world."
Under the program, CN Net will integrate countries, cities and companies all over the world to boost a green economy and "assist in building confidence through demonstrable action at the national and local level on the art of the possible," said Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director.
Climate neutral refers to the concept of reducing or offsetting greenhouse gases emitted by a country in ways such as planting trees, reducing fuel usage and adopting green energy, to balance the global warming effect.
Asked if Taiwan, as a non-UN member, could join the program, UNEP spokesman Nick Nuttall said in a telephone interview on Friday that Taiwanese cities and companies could file applications at any time. He stopped short of mentioning whether Taiwan could join the program at the national level.
"It is a positive development, paving a new way for Taiwan to participate in the environmental movement on an international scale," Taiwan Environmental Protection Union chairwoman Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉) said.
"What needs to be seen is Taiwanese people's and the government's seriousness about environmental protection," she said, adding that once Taiwan joins the program, it would have to make commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So far, four countries -- Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway -- and four cities, including Rizhao, in Shandong Province, the Norwegian city of Arendal, the Swedish city of Vaxjo and Canada's Vancouver, as well as five companies in Singapore, Brazil, the US, the UK and South Africa, have signed on to CN Net.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Environmental Protection Administration would not discuss Taiwan's eventual participation in the program.