Climate conference must include Taiwan

November 21, 2018

Located very close to each other in this part of the world that bears the brunt of climate change, the Philippines and Taiwan have a shared destiny: being ravaged by typhoons. And it’s often that the typhoon hitting Northern Luzon, particularly Batanes, would be the same one devastating Taiwan. So close is Batanes to Taiwan’s southernmost tip that it’s like “one community, one typhoon.”

Coping with deadly typhoons is a fact of life in both Taiwan and the Philippines, considering their proximity to the Pacific Ocean where most typhoons are formed. And with Mother Earth getting overheated with global warming, more deadly typhoons are on the horizon as climate change wreaks havoc across the planet.

As cataclysmic storms are considered the “new normal” nowadays, vulnerable countries need to cope better. That’s why discussions and all efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change – especially this year’s 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to be held on December 2 to 14 in Katowice, Poland – are of prime importance to the Philippines and Taiwan.

But as the two countries have something in common – bearing the brunt of climate change – there’s a stark difference regarding COP24: While the Philippines can  fully participate in the conference, Taiwan cannot. And the reason is the One-China Policy, as usual.

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the Philippines, Michael Peiyung Hsu, whose official title is Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, is seeking the support of all Filipinos and the Philippine Government for Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming Climate Change Conference known as COP24. Here’s what Mr. Hsu wrote recently:

“At the conference, the participants are expected to work out and adopt a package of decisions to better ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. This will help focus international efforts on mitigating and adapting to the impact of climate change.

“However, due to political pressure, Taiwan can only attend the COP sessions as an NGO observer.

“As a result, when the world meets in Poland in December, the people of Taiwan will have no voice in those talks. This is not right. The people of Taiwan should be treated equally to make a substantial contribution to the protection of Mother Earth.

“Taiwan’s absence from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) undermines this simple fact and weakens the world’s ability to act as one. It is unjust to keep Taiwan excluded from the UNFCCC and leave Taiwan to deal with the impact of climate change on its own.

“Despite Taiwan’s exclusion from the efforts to fight climate change, Taiwan will continue its unwavering efforts with unshakable determination to combat climate change for the sake of Taiwan and the international community.

“In June 2015, Taiwan passed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, setting five-year regulatory carbon reduction targets in the hope of reducing Taiwan’s greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2050. It seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two percent by 2020, 10 percent by 2025, and 20 percent by 2030.

“In August 2018, Taiwan amended its Air Pollution Control Act to reduce air pollution and accelerate Taiwan’s energy transformation. It also seeks to further restrict vehicle and factory emissions, improve air quality, and enhance the management of pollution sources and treatment of pollution.

“As the issue of global mercury prevention becomes an impending issue, Taiwan has turned over the mercury deposition sampler, handed by the Taiwan EPA to the Philippines’ DENR. The equipment is designed to systematically monitor wet deposition and atmospheric contractions of mercury and to tackle the transnational mercury pollution.

“Climate change concerns all humans. The climate change issue is a humanitarian issue as well as a global issue that knows no borders. Climate change requires not just national, but global solutions. It requires cross-border cooperation.

“I call on all like-minded countries to look beyond political considerations and support Taiwan’s professional, pragmatic, and constructive participation in the UNFCCC.

“Global challenge requires global response. For the sake of Mother Earth, I urge the Philippine Government and its people to support Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming COP24 in Poland. Let Taiwan and the Philippines work together in global efforts to combat climate change!”

Taiwan deserves all the support we ought to give. Our closest neighbor has always been there for us in times of need. On countless occasions, Taiwan was among first responders delivering much-needed relief goods to ease our suffering during calamities. The Philippines owes a lot to Taiwan. Giving our all-out support now is the least we can do. It’s in line with a cherished Filipino trait – being grateful for utang na loob (debt of gratitude).