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Taiwan’s Bid for Meaningful Participation
in the UNFCCC
October, 2014
“Action by individual countries is not enough.
Each country, however large, is just a part of the
problem. It is essential to create a shared
international vision of long-term goals, and to
build the international frameworks that will help
each country to play its part in meeting
these common goals.” – Nicholas Stern
Anthropogenic climate change has become a major threat to countries
around the world. Based on scientific findings and observations, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly indicates
that our climate system is warming, with increasing greenhouse gas
(GHG) concentrations, declining snow and ice, rising sea levels, and
higher overall temperatures in the atmosphere. According to AR5, it is
evident that human activity has had a profound impact on our climate
system, and that this impact has grown since the release of AR4. The
new report emphasizes the need for substantial and sustained GHG
emissions reductions in order to combat climate change.
It has become clear that even with an immediate halt of GHG
emissions, climate change will last for many centuries. A long-term
commitment is therefore required to deal with the challenges posed by
climate change. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Ms. Christiana
Figueres, has remarked that AR5 “leaves no room for doubt” with
regard to the severity of climate change, and that “no country is
immune” to its impact.
Indeed, climate change is a wicked problem that requires changes to our
current lifestyle, a strong commitment to GHG emissions reductions, as
well as participation and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the
Republic of China (Taiwan). Despite its exclusion from the UNFCCC,
Taiwan continues to pursue GHG emissions reductions domestically.
Taiwan is ready and willing to contribute to international efforts aimed
at finding feasible solutions, and therefore calls on nations to support its
bid for observer status in the UNFCCC.
Why Taiwan should be included in the UNFCCC process
 Taiwan fulfills its international responsibilities on climate change
According to the 2013 Key World Energy Statistics published by the
International Energy Agency (IEA), Taiwan ranked as the 23 rd-largest
emitter of carbon dioxide in the world in 2011, with a total of 264.66
million tons, accounting for 0.84% of global emissions. It is also the
21st-largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita. From 2008 to 2011, the
annual amount of Taiwan’s carbon dioxide emissions and emission
intensity witnessed average annual declines of 0.9% and 4.4%,
respectively, considerably better than the world as a whole, which saw
average annual growth rates of 1.7% and 0.2%. As a responsible
member of the international community, Taiwan has voluntarily
announced emissions reduction targets and is ready to work with the
UNFCCC to make further contributions to the fight against climate
change in accordance with international law.
 Taiwan has set ambitious targets for GHG emissions reductions
Taiwan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion
to 2005 levels by 2020, and to 2000 levels by 2025. Taiwan also intends
to improve its energy efficiency by more than 2% per year in the period
2008-2015, so as to reduce energy intensity by more than 20% in 2015
compared to 2005 levels, and by 50% in 2050. Also, Taiwan strives to
reduce its GHG emissions by at least 30% relative to the business-asusual (BAU) benchmark by 2020. In fact, Taiwan’s targets are much
more ambitious compared to the scale of reduction of similarly sized
economies, and are higher than the BAU-based 15%-30% reduction
target by 2020 for developing countries proposed by the IPCC.
 Taiwan is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change
Taiwan is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially as it is
located in one of the most meteorologically and geologically sensitive
regions in the world. For example, Typhoon Morakot, which struck
Taiwan in 2009, brought the heaviest rainfall in Taiwan’s recorded
history, leading to massive landslides and causing the death of 700
people. A total of US$3.63 billion has been spent on reconstruction
efforts following this major disaster.
 Taiwan’s economy may be affected by climate-related trade rules
With the fragmentation of global climate governance, the issue of
climate change is now being dealt with by a disparate group of
environmental and non-environmental international institutions and
regimes. Climate change-related regulations issued under UNFCCC
mechanisms may also be adopted by these institutions and regimes. For
example, emissions reduction principles in the future may be integrated
in trade regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in which
Taiwan participates as an official member. This could have a direct
impact on Taiwan’s foreign trade and economy.
 Taiwan’s market-based reduction schemes would be enhanced
It has been widely recognized that market mechanisms under the Kyoto
Protocol, including Joint Implementation (JI), Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM), and Emissions Trading (ET), can facilitate
reductions in GHG emissions by allowing governments to set up clearer
mitigation goals and encouraging the private sector to invest in GHG
emissions reductions. Taiwan’s inclusion in the UNFCCC would
therefore provide it with more resources for developing market-based
reduction schemes.
 Taiwan would gain better understanding of climate change trends
Currently, Taiwan participates in the UNFCCC under the name of one
of the country’s NGOs, the Industrial Technology Research Institute
(ITRI). Only a limited number of NGO participants are allowed to
attend the Conference of the Parties (COP). As an observer, Taiwan
would be able to expand its participation in COPs, enhancing our
understanding of important climate change trends.
 Taiwan’s efforts to create a green economy would be accelerated
Both as a contributor to and victim of climate change, Taiwan is
undergoing a socio-economic transformation to create a green economy
and achieve sustainable development. With improved access to relevant
information and resources, Taiwan’s inclusion in the UNFCCC would
aforementioned transformation.
 Taiwan would be integrated in the global climate network
The UNFCCC serves as an important platform for sharing global
climate information. Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UNFCCC
would enable it to pursue more bilateral and multilateral opportunities
to join the global climate network, so as to exchange ideas and share
experiences concerning climate change.
Taiwan’s domestic efforts to tackle climate change
 Scientific projects
Taiwan strives to enhance climate knowledge domestically through the
Taiwan Climate Change Projection and Information Platform Project
(TCCIP) by carrying out a series of studies on local climate patterns.
These efforts, as well as the completion of Climate Change in Taiwan:
Scientific Report 2011, demonstrate that Taiwan is ready and willing to
participate in the IPCC and contribute to scientific efforts to better
understand climate change.
 Mitigation
Taiwan introduced the National Energy Saving and Carbon Reduction
Plan in 2010, which seeks to not only substantially reduce carbon
emissions in the energy, manufacturing, transportation, architecture, and
construction sectors, but also change people’s lifestyles. Collaboration
between the public and private sectors has already produced clear
results. For instance, from 2008 to 2013, the annual amount of Taiwan’s
carbon dioxide emissions due to fossil fuel combustion declined by an
average of 0.4%. Moreover, Taiwan’s carbon dioxide emission intensity
on average fell by 3.12% per year. These numbers show that Taiwan has
gradually achieved a negative correlation between the rate of its
economic growth and the amount of its carbon emissions.
Taiwan has also launched Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions
(NAMAs), highlighting its determination to promote low-carbon energy
development, reduce demand for fossil fuels, enhance energy security,
seek new opportunities for low carbon technologies, create green jobs,
design blueprints for the establishment of a low-carbon society, and
adhere to international conventions. Furthermore, Taiwan has already
developed and put into practice its own MRV (Measurement, Reporting
and Verification) system, which allows for the monitoring of 90% of its
GHG emissions.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies are internationally
recognized as essential instruments in climate change mitigation.
Taiwan has also started to develop CCS technologies. In addition to
investing in CCS research and development, Taiwan held the
International Conference on Carbon Capture and Storage in May 2014,
which was attended by representatives of the IEA, the Global Carbon
Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI), the Japan Carbon Capture &
Sequestration (JCCS) Company Limited, Ecofys Netherlands, as well as
many other international experts.
 Adaptation
The Adaptation Strategy to Climate Change in Taiwan, a document
released in 2012, focuses on Taiwan’s adaptation strategies with regard
to natural disasters, basic infrastructure, water resources, land use,
coastal management, energy supply, industry, agriculture, biodiversity,
and public health. Moreover, Taiwan has set up the Taiwan Climate
Adaptation Knowledge Platform to share information with the scientific
community and the general public.
 Climate change education
To raise public awareness of climate change, Taiwan has integrated a
series of compulsory academic courses on climate change and
adaptation into its higher education, and has organized various
workshops on adaptation to train primary school teachers.
Taiwan’s international efforts to tackle climate change
Over the years, Taiwan has promoted cooperative projects with
countries around the world, including four countries in Central Asia,
five in the Caribbean, eight in Latin America, five in Africa, three in
Europe, and five in the Pacific. These projects cover a variety of climate
change-related areas, such as food security, energy security, green
energy, biodiversity conservation, natural disaster management, postdisaster reconstruction, forestation, environmental protection, water
resource management, drought relief, and LED street lights.
As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan
actively cooperates with other countries. It is not only willing to share
its own knowledge and experience, but also eager to learn more about
new technologies and ideas regarding GHG emissions reduction,
adaptation, and mitigation.
 Cooperation with diplomatic allies
Taiwan has engaged in bilateral cooperation projects with many of its
diplomatic allies, including Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El
Salvador. These projects, involving Geographical Information System
(GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, have assisted
these four countries in monitoring environmental changes and managing
ecologically important and vulnerable areas. The success of these
projects is reflected in governments’ efficient management of
environmental changes and rapid responses to natural disasters.
In light of the impact on biodiversity caused by climate change, Taiwan
has cooperated with Solomon Islands on a project to record and classify
plant resources, contributing to conservation efforts in the Pacific.
Furthermore, Taiwan has shared its expertise with St. Christopher and
Nevis as part of a bilateral project to develop renewable energy sources
such as solar energy. In another project, Taiwan assisted St. Lucia in
improving its energy efficiency in the public sector and promoting the
use of LED street lights, solar energy, and biogas technology. Taiwan
also cooperated with St. Lucia on its Sustainable Energy Advancement
Framework, which covers such areas as green energy, emissions
reduction, renewable energy, and environmental protection. Meanwhile,
in Nauru, Taiwan participated in cooperative projects on solar energy
systems for homes, solar street lights, and solar handheld lights.
Given the vulnerability of Pacific island nations to climate change,
Taiwan has offered training to meteorological personnel from Solomon
Islands and Kiribati. It also dispatched meteorological experts to these
two diplomatic allies in August 2014, so as to assist them in improving
their weather forecast systems.
In addition, with regard to the establishment of the Warsaw Framework
for REDD+ at COP19, Taiwan is willing to share its experience and
knowledge in forest carbon sequestration and monitoring, as well as
carbon sink monitoring, and cooperate with countries that participate in
UN-REDD programs. In fact, based on its 30 years of experience in
numerical weather prediction, as well as its understanding of multimodel ensemble (MME) techniques acquired through its participation in
the APEC Climate Center (APCC), Taiwan’s inclusion in the UNFCCC
would allow it to make significant contributions to global meteorology.
 Cooperation with non-diplomatic allies and others
Taiwan also cooperates on environmental protection issues with nondiplomatic allies, having engaged in 200 cooperative programs over the
last 21 years. In April 2014, Administrator of the US Environmental
Protection Agency Gina McCarthy visited Taiwan for the launch of a
new joint Taiwan-US program, the International Environmental
Partnership (IEP). Taiwan and the US will work together to increase the
scale of GHG emissions reductions, develop sustainable low-carbon
communities, and strengthen climate change adaptation. The IEP thus
serves as a platform for Taiwan to share its successful experiences in
importance to the issue of environmental education, which was
discussed during COP18 in Doha. The first meeting of the Global
Environmental Education Partnership, in which nine countries—
including Taiwan—participated, took place in April 2014. During this
meeting, international experts discussed the state of environmental
education in their respective countries, as well as future challenges,
explored future cooperation on key issues, and established relevant
communication channels.
Taiwan has the highest GDP among island nations in the Pacific. It is
willing to share its climate adaptation experiences and management
methods with other countries, and establish climate partnerships with
the international community. Taiwan held the First Pan Pacific
International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Taipei in
September 2014, which was attended by officials, scholars and experts
from Taiwan, the US and other Southeast Asian countries. Currently,
Taiwan attempts to position itself as a facilitator for exchanges on
climate change adaptation. In fact, it plans to establish a climate change
adaptation research and education center and host annual international
conferences on climate change adaptation.
In 2008, Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with
the EU for the Pacific Greenhouse Gases Measurement Project.
Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines and shipping company Evergreen
Marine Corporation are actively involved in cross-border GHG data
Taiwan has also made progress in its efforts to become carbon neutral,
and has been invited by the British Standards Institution (BSI) to jointly
amend the PAS 2060:2014 Specification for the demonstration of
carbon neutrality, an important basis for producing related ISO
Taiwan is the 11th country in the world that has implemented a national
carbon footprint labeling system. In 2009, Taiwan’s ITRI and the UK
Carbon Trust signed an MOU for further cooperation on carbon
footprint labels.
Dr. Chiou Shu-Ti, Director General of the Health Promotion
Administration of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, is a member of a
special task force of the International Network of Health Promoting
Hospitals and Health Services (HPH), which cooperates closely with the
World Health Organization (WHO). The task force assists health
institutions around the world in transforming themselves from polluters
to protectors of the environment.
Taiwan’s involvement in subnational climate governance
Recognizing the effectiveness of cities and local government networks
in dealing with climate change, 12 Taiwanese cities and municipalities
that are active members of Local Governments for Sustainability
(ICLEI) are also taking part in its Cities for Climate Protection (CCP)
program. The ICLEI Kaohsiung Capacity Center, opened in 2011,
further provides training, professional expertise, and information
exchange on sustainable development for ICLEI members as well as
other cities in Taiwan and East Asia. Moreover, Taiwan closely interacts
with another important subnational climate mechanism, the Cities
Climate Leadership Group (C40). On September 22, 2014, it was
announced that Taipei was the Citizen’s Choice of the C40 2014 City
Climate Leadership Awards. This serves as recognition for Taiwan’s
leadership in combating climate change and developing urban
sustainability, and highlights Taiwan’s engagement with subnational
climate governance initiatives.
With the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, countries around the
world are currently negotiating a new agreement under the UNFCCC
that would be signed in 2015 and enter into force in 2020, replacing the
Kyoto Protocol.
Indeed, we now have a unique opportunity to create more flexibility in
the UNFCCC process, so that climate change can be tackled more
effectively. We call on the international community to support Taiwan’s
bid to participate in the UNFCCC as an observer under the name of
Protection Administration
(EPA). The
inclusion of Taiwan would offer a great boost to the global fight against
climate change.