Student - June 15, 2017

Meanwhile in… Taiwan

Teun Fiers

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.

Photo: Shutterstock

‘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.’

Lena Chang is a Master’s student of Climate Studies from Taiwan. She responds to the news that China had taken the lead in the international climate debate.
Lena Chang is a Master’s student of Climate Studies from Taiwan. She responds to the news that China had taken the lead in the international climate debate.

Re:actions 1

  • Wenbiao Shi, PhD student Human and Animal Physiology

    I am sorry to say that I feel really upset when I read this article. Personally I think this topic is about the internal affairs of China, thus making it sensitive, or even provocative.
    It is a clear fact that the Paris agreement is – like any other international agreement, treaty or official organisation – cooperation between nations or countries. In other words, if Taiwan island was authorized to participate in the Paris agreement, Taiwan island would be accepted in a way as an independent country. This is an obvious political trick, which is unacceptable to China.
    The interviewed student in the article considers the exclusion of Taiwan island from the Paris agreement or WHO as China striving for international power, but I doubt it. China has been a developing country and will still be in the coming decades. However, we did not use this as an excuse for more emission of greenhouse gasses. Instead China takes its responsibility in global climate change, calling for the international community to make an effort together, even after the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. In view of this, I believe China will execute its duty in the Paris agreement seriously.
    However, I do agree with the author that Taiwan island can make a contribution to the climate change, as it is the 22nd biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, and public awareness of the climate has been arising. And I do admire the author with her efforts for the improvement of the global environment. I do agree as well that the geopolitical barriers should be set aside because these nonsense barriers can do nothing but compromise every effort to achieve good things between China and Taiwan island.
    On the other hand, we have to concede the fact that it is getting more and more impractical for the Taiwan government to participate in the international community with the identity of a sovereign country. But what if the Taiwan society sets aside the geopolitical barriers, e.g. recognizing itself as a part of China? Under this consensus Taiwan would be welcome and appreciated to make contributions, together with China, to the world. This would be a more effective and practical way for Taiwan to make an international impact, for China to take more responsibilities in international events, and for the interviewed student and other environmentalists in Taiwan and China to make dreams come true.