When the global leaders convene in Paris later this year for climate negotiation, they will have an opportunity to take action that could significantly change our world for the better. However, most members of Congress don’t realize that among the 195 member nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Taiwan is absent. Taiwan’s 23.3 million people urge the U.S. Congress to take meaningful action now to address this issue.
Although Taiwan has been excluded from the UNFCCC and its related mechanisms, it remains keen to join international efforts aimed at saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan is committed to contributing to the fight against climate change, and is one of the few countries to have voluntarily announced reduction targets for carbon dioxide emissions.
Taiwan has been striving to improve energy efficiency by more than 2 percent per year in the period 2008-2015, so as to reduce energy intensity by more than 20 percent by 2015 compared to 2005 levels, and by 50 percent by 2050. The joint efforts of the government and the public have also enabled Taiwan to reduce energy intensity by an average of 2.46% annually, while its per capita carbon emissions have dropped from 18th in the world to 21st, a significant improvement in energy efficiency.
Taiwan has for many years worked to sign bilateral agreements and engage in multilateral cooperation in an effort to respond to the policies advocated by the UNFCCC. For instance, in order to conform to the 2015 Paris Agreement that will be reached under the UNFCCC at the end of this year, Taiwan has also drafted its "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution" in response to the Lima Call for Climate Action issued in Peru last year. This further demonstrates the Taiwan's determination to continue to participate in the UNFCCC process.
No country is immune to the effects of global warming, so it is of extreme importance that we address these challenges in a global manner to ensure our planet’s sustainable development. The challenge presented by climate change will require all of us to do more with less. For country likes Taiwan, it has a great deal to offer the international community in a vast number of areas. Its prolonged exclusion from the UNFCCC serves neither its interests nor those of the global community. The continuous exclusion of Taiwan from the global summit runs counter to the global efforts to address climate change.
The UNFCCC is a key instrument to deal with climate change and most analysts believe that the governments of the world have been too slow to act, that it is already too late to avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The people of Taiwan will push ahead in the fight against climate change, but exclusion from the UNFCCC hampers the country’s best efforts. Not only does that put the Taiwanese people at a disadvantage, it also diminishes the response to the rising temperatures seen worldwide. In the face of such a grim outlook, support for Taiwan’s bid to participate in the UNFCCC as an observer cannot wait.
U.S. Congress needs to make identifying an urgent solution in supporting Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the COP21 a priority. This global problem demands a truly global solution. The citizens of the world deserve every hand on deck as the effort to combat climate change assumes ever increasing importance. The new UNFCCC agreement will not be complete without Taiwan’s participation. We encourage all Members of Congress who have not already decided to support such resolution to do so, and to push your peers to take even greater action before it’s too late.
Wang is a former advisory commissioner for the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United States; and former president and senior adviser of the Taiwan Benevolent Association of America (TBAA).