Combating Global Warming: Make Taiwan Part of the Solution | Commentary

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties is being hosted by Peru this year from Dec. 1 to 12. The COP 20 is an important stepping stone to forging a new universal climate agreement in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris. However, most members of Congress don’t realize that among the 195 member nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Taiwan is absent, despite the fact that the island is one of the leading economies in the world, a thriving democracy in East Asia, and willing to commit to reducing its carbon emissions proactively. To this end, we call on U.S. Congress to pass a resolution in supporting Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the COP 20.

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.

Since 2009, Taiwan has garnered support from various parliamentary bodies for its meaningful participation in the UNFCCC. These include the European Parliament, the Central American Parliament, the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, the Asian-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union, the Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference, the National Congress of Belgium, the Senate of the Republic of Colombia, and the National Assembly of Panama. We hereby call on United States to support the engagement of non-party actors, such as Taiwan, in the Lima, in order to ensure an effective, fair and ambitious agreement after the expiration of Kyoto Protocol. In particular, Taiwan also seeks U.S. support for its application to become a Green Climate Fund observer.

Taiwan 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. Taipei has actively sought U.S. and international support to expand its international space, and has initiated pragmatic and constructive dialogue with Beijing, achieving significant results. In 2009, member countries of the United Nations for the first time invited Taiwan to formally participate in the World Health Assembly as an observer.

In July 2013, the House of Representatives and the Senate each passed resolutions supporting Taiwan’s International Civil Aviation Organization bid and the two chambers moved quickly to pass the bill. President Obama than signed into law H.R. 1151 and announced the U.S. government’s full support for Taiwan’s participation in the organization. In Sept. 2013, Taiwan was invited to attend the 38th Session of the Assembly of the ICAO as a guest of the president of the Council. Taiwan’s participation in these two bodies is of great symbolic meaning. The unprecedented positive gesture from U.S. Congress has given Taiwan hope that continuous support from the Congress would lead to Taiwan’s substantial participation in the UNFCCC.

Taiwan continues to improve its carbon reduction regulations to meet international standards. Based on Taiwan’s efforts in assisting other countries to combat the impact of climate change, Taiwan is well qualified to participate in the UNFCCC as an observer. We firmly believe that Taiwan is well-qualified to participate in the UNFCCC as an observer, and we seek the Congress’ support for Taiwan’s inclusion when gathering in Lima.

The COP 20 is the foremost, principal opportunity for global nations to negotiate and shape the contribution they will give to vastly reduce their carbon emissions, before a definitive commitment in Paris. Congress and the international community should take into account the precedents of WHA and ICAO and help Taiwan to substantively participate in the COP 20. We now have just one more shot, next month in Peru, to include Taiwan in the mutual assistance system. Let Taiwan join the COP 20 so that the nation can contribute to climate change dialogue on the global stage. The new UNFCCC agreement will not be complete without Taiwan’s participation.

Kent Wang is an advisory commissioner for the Overseas Community Affairs Council of Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United States.

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