Climate change is very real

Climate change is yet to receive a prominent position in political discourse in Taiwan. However, this may be set to change in the near future. 

The Taiwan News today reports that the EPA has demanded action on CO2 emmissions. Currently Taiwan produces about 12 tons of CO2 per capita. This compares with the global average of 4 tons.

The Taiwan News quotes Yeh Fan-lu, a senior engineer with the EPA's Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Bureau, as saying

Yeh said that in addition to seeking renewable or alternative energies and cutting back on energy consumption, the most urgent task that Taiwan needs to carry out is to readjust its industrial structures – transforming existing core industries from high-energy-consuming and high-polluting modes to industries that use clean energies or consume low levels of energies.

All this is easier said than done. It really demands nothing less than reconfiguring the entire economy. Many Taiwanese still have trouble adjusting to the transition from an old style manufacturing based economy to a modern information and service based economy. The shift to a low carbon economy is an even bigger step.  

The article also cites data from the Central Weather Bureau showing that Taiwan's weather has changed for the warmer in recent years. 

Citing Taipei City as an example, the CWB said days of high-temperature exceeding 35 Celsius degree increased to 40 days during the past five years. The figure is much higher compared with the average 19.7 days for the past one hundred years, the CWB said. It also said that relative humidity has dropped by 5 percent during the past 20 years.

The Taipei Times also has an article detailing the EPA's plan for a public education campaign about global warming. The EPA will cooperate with National Geographic Channel in Taiwan holding events on Earth Day (22 April).

There are really two key things needed to solve the problems related to climate change: good policy and education. Taiwan still has a long way to go on both counts, but at least it is making a start.

It is unfortunate that Taiwan's geographical isolation as an island and political isolation from the international community mean there is a lack of impetus or incentive to seriously tackle the issue of climate change. However, water shortages and droughts in Taiwan combined with changes to the international economy may leave Taiwan with no choice but to take action sooner rather than later.  

Update: The Taipei Times has an editorial about global warming and the need for government action today (11 April 2007). 

5 thoughts on “Climate change is very real

  1. Another great post (liked the rainy bike ride too!) and you’re right: education is one of the main problems. I ask my students to write about Taiwan’s environmental problems at least once per semester, and the results are sometimes quite encouraging. Doubt if it will reduce emissions, but the thing is, like you say, more people talking about this is the first step.

  2. Some say 12% of Taiwan will be under water by year 2500, so many students here don’t care about this issue. They just say: it’s inevitable. But check out this blogsite for a possible remedy, although Taiwan probably won’t play a big role in this.

  3. It’s staggering to think that prior to WWII Taipei frosted over several times, and it was not possible to grow bananas there.

    I always have my students write on environmental problems too. They just don’t see themselves as drivers of policy, merely as its passive recipients. Lots has to change here.

    Michael

  4. Public awareness and desire for action about climate change has surged in Australia in the past year as a result of a severe drought. Suddenly people have realised that climate change is having very direct impacts on the economy and people’s lives and this might get worse in the future.

    I believe there has also been a turning point in attitudes about climate change globally over the last year or so. Al Gore can take a little credit, but I think most of it is because people have suddenly stopped doubting and started calculating the costs.

    Taiwan seems to remain pretty ignorant of the problem. It will probably take some sort of local climate crisis, like a drought or water shortage, before people really start thinking about it. Also if some sort of global carbon tax or a serious treaty restricting emissions is put in place then Taiwan might have to pay attention. Although being outside the UN they might be able to continue avoiding the issue.

  5. Pingback: Time to cut CO2 - World Environment Day 2008 - David on Formosa

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