EPA minister seeks environmental cooperation with the German Bundestag

By J.Fan

Taiwan has always been the victim of diplomatic isolation posed by China. Despite the tough and unfriendly international political stage, Taiwan tries to participate in various international discussions. In the upcoming UNFCCC climate change conference in Paris, Taiwan will attend as a non-governmental organization and aim to gain more support internationally. Wei Kuo-yen, the incumbent minister of Environmental Protection Administration, was welcomed to present a speech at the seminar in the German Bundestag on September 9.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Germany invited Wei to present a speech at the Climate Change Policy in Taiwan seminar, which made Wei the first minister to present a speech at the German Bundestag. Many politicians attended the seminar, including Chairman of the German-Taiwanese Parliamentary Friendship Group of the German Bundestag Klaus-Peter Willsch, the vice president of the World League for Freedom and Democracy of Germany Olav Gutting, a member of Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Dr. Thomas Gebhart, a member of the German Bundestag, Hans-Joachim Barchmann and 20 other government officials.

Taiwan is an island country, thus geographically; the island is more vulnerable to climate change. Taiwan has been pushing to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the government is hoping to go beyond the current status with Germany’s support. Although Taiwan is not part of UNFCCC, the Legislative Yuan has passed the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Management Act on June 15, which demonstrated Taiwan’s commitment to protecting the environment in line with the global trend of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act sets a long-term goal for carbon emissions to be reduced to less than half the level of 2005 by 2050. “Although Taiwan is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, it has to take some action in the face of worsening global warming,”said Legislator-at-Large Tien Chiu-chin when they passed the new bill.

Wei said during his speech that the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Management Act is officially launched in Taiwan and he looks forward to cooperate with the international society. “Although Taiwan has continuously contributed to combat climate change but there are rooms for improvements in various aspects when comparing to the European countries,” Wei told the audience at the German Bundestag, “we hope to cooperate with Germany and learn from your successful experiences.”

However, the Taiwanese central government recently annulled Yulin County’s autonomous regulation which bans the factories to burn low quality coal and petroleum coke in the county. This indication makes the public questions the government’s determination on delivering a clean environment for the residents of Yunlin and the nation. Environmental Protection Administration will need a comprehensive plan to cut green house gases, respond to climate change and provide Yulin County’s residence a clear blue sky.

Photo Courtesy of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Germany
Photo Courtesy of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Germany
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