A number of foreign dignitaries yesterday encouraged Taiwan to boost efforts to combat climate change, at both government and non-governmental levels, despite the nation’s continued exclusion from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Environmental Protection Administration organized a forum yesterday for representatives of international NGOs accredited under the UNFCCC to exchange views and share experiences with Taiwanese counterparts on NGO engagement on the issue.
“We would like to see more efforts, actually, by the government. The EPA is doing a very good job, but we need more support from the government in general, more budget and more political will on this issue,” EU Representative to Taiwan Frederic Laplanche told the forum.
“We also need more courage from the parliament here. I am being very blunt, but this is the reality,” he said.
Laplanche also called on companies and economic players to invest in preventing climate change by putting money into efforts to stop global warming.
There is an international trend for countries take voluntary measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, Laplanche said.
“Not everything can be solved within the UNFCCC and within the international fora. Ultimately, everything has to be done by the players themselves. This is urgent,” he said.
Laplanche added that the international community needs to find ways to deal with the problem of Taiwan’s exclusion from the UNFCCC.
“Taiwan is not included well enough in the international arena” because “climate change is the result of human activities and we all have very strong responsibility to face this situation together.”
Laplanche encouraged countries and international organizations to foster bilateral cooperation with Taiwan in the field and to find ways to better include Taiwan in international activities as he called for “collective efforts” to make sure Taiwan can meaningfully participate in the post-2020 period when countries will be negotiating a deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
Mirko Kruppa, deputy director general of Deutsches Institut Taipei, Germany’s representative office in Taiwan, stressed the role of civil society in Taiwan to steer the government, companies, and its people in the right direction on climate change.
Although Taiwan has been very active on tackling climate change issues, it is one of the world’s biggest per capita polluters, Kruppa said.
“You cannot only rely on the government. You need civil society,” he said.
Given Taiwan’s political situation on the international stage, NGOs can be a very good way of countering the limitations Taiwan’s government might face and they might be the right tool to make Taiwan’s voice more audible in the international community, Kruppa said.
American Institute in Taiwan Acting Director Brent Christensen praised the progress Taiwan has made over the years in cleaning up its environment.
“Few places in the world have seen such clear progress in addressing environmental problems as Taiwan,” he said.
Awi Mona (蔡志偉), associate professor at the Department of Educational Management at National Taipei University of Education, raised concerns over the impact of measures adopted by the UNFCCC on Aborigines, citing the REDD-plus project, a payment mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation of existing forest carbon and enhancement of forest carbon through sustainable forest management.
“The REDD-plus is likely to be a problem rather than a solution unless human rights safeguards are put in place because we have seen from a lot of cases across the world that the project can lead to eviction and land-grabbing affecting indigenous people,” said Mona, a member of the Sediq people.
“Although Taiwan does not follow policy set up by REDD-plus, we can also see similar cases happening in Taiwan, especially in Aboriginal regions,” he said.