Project provides national data on extreme weather

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - Page 4

A three-year project to integrate Taiwan’s climate science information has come to an end, and a new study on how the nation’s agriculture and ecology are influenced by climate change will begin soon, a government official said.

“We saw some good results [in the first project], and we expect to begin the second [project] this year,” said Lin Lee-yaw (林李耀), deputy executive secretary of the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction.

The National Science Council launched the Taiwan Climate Change Information Platform in 2010 in partnership with local universities and research institutes, integrating information and technology from around the country, Lin said.

The project provided projection data and developed climate change models that can be referred to by policymakers in the future, he said.

Under the US$3 million project, Lin said that the impact of extreme events such as typhoons can be assessed and potential changes in rainfall can be calculated.

“Such information is valuable and can help reduce casualties,” he said.

The new plan will support further research on Taiwan’s agricultural and ecological environments, which are both vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Lin said.

He said that the mean temperature in Taiwan has risen 1.4oC over the past century, similar to other developing economies, but nearly double that of the global mean of 0.74oC.

“We should do more research to find out the reason as soon as possible and tackle the factors behind the increase,” he said.

Hsu Huang-hsiung (許晃雄), a professor at Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Environmental Changes, also expressed confidence that the project could provide substantial scientific data and research results.

The results of the project, along with the Consortium for Climate Change Study and the Taiwan Integrated Research Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology, can be used to implement a national climate change action plan, Hsu said.

At an international forum on climate change earlier this week in Taipei, a South Korean expert said that most developing countries are vulnerable to climate change and have little capacity to adapt to it, urging these nations to take the issue more seriously.

“Adaptation is most urgent, but only a few countries have such strategies,” Kwon Young-han of the Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change said.

Developing countries should work together, especially on primary industries and risk management, he said.

Climate change adaptation should be incorporated into national security and national resource management, and relevant business opportunities should be sought and nurtured, Kwon said in a document prepared for the conference.

South Korea’s Ministry of Environment in 2011 allocated US$4 billion to support a local government adaptation plan, Kwon said.

The impact of climate change on South Korea is estimated to cost about 2.7 trillion South Korean won (US$2.55 billion) by 2100, he said.

“There is a significant increase in the need for international cooperation on climate change adaptation,” he said.

Taiwan ranked 52nd among 61 countries in the 2013 Climate Change Performance Index, down four places from last year.

According to the index, published jointly by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe, Denmark was placed highest on the list, followed by Sweden and Portugal.

However, countries were listed from fourth place downward as no country was deemed deserving of a top-three ranking.