When US president Trump announced the US’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the Chinese government responded by showing their climate ambition. Ties with the European Union were strengthened and a deal was made with the state of California. However, some people question China’s true intentions, among them Taiwanese student Lena Chang.
‘Personally, I am a big fan of environmentalism and therefore I consider the recent messages from the Chinese government as a good thing. It is important to note that just the message itself is important for mobilizing companies and citizens to act more sustainably. Also, Trump’s politics are really immoral. After his election, when I was disappointed about the future of the environment, my dad told me: ‘These elections may shape the next years, but your dream for the environment will last a lifetime.’
On the other hand, China has been the key reason why Taiwan has not been included in the international climate negotiations. Ever since Taiwan had a sovereign government, the Chinese do not want us to enter UN bodies. Last month, for example, tensions rose again around a conference of the World Health Organization. Despite this exclusion, our politicians have set rather ambitious national climate targets and we are one of the few countries in the world to have secured this in a national law. The Taiwan economy is the 22nd biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses and the island is vulnerable to climate change. Public awareness of the climate has been increasing a lot in Taiwan, as I notice among my acquaintances. The difficulty for the Taiwanese climate policy is to connect internationally, for example to the global market in greenhouse gas emissions.
To me, for China to show that it is honestly striving to limit climate change more than it is striving for international power, it is crucial that the geopolitical barriers are set aside. The participation of Taiwan in the Paris Agreement should then be made possible for the sake of the global climate.’