Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Taiwan-made film raises climate change profile

Taiwan’s first documentary on climate change premiered on February 22nd in Taipei. Produced by Sisy Chen, “Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Celsius” urged the discussion of climate change as a top national security priority in Taiwan. Chen told local news media that the name of the film came from the consensus reached at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 that the world temperature should be controlled within 2 degrees Celsius in order to head off further deterioration in the world’s climate.

The 70-minute film, produced over five months, and with NT$8 million (US$250,000)-worth of financial support from Taiwanese businesses, local media, researchers and volunteers, seeks to educate Taiwanese people about the importance of balancing environmental protection with economic growth.

Taiwanese amongst first climate change victims

The film cites the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) statement of 2007, that global temperature is likely to rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees C (2 and 11.5 degrees F) during the 21st century and that sea levels may rise 18 to 59 centimeters (7.08 to 23.22 inches).

Using those statistics combined with information compiled by researchers from Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, Chen came to realize that some parts of Taiwan would be under water along with low-lying island nations such as the Maldives and Kiribati. Taiwan’s affected areas would include Dongshih in Chiayi County, Donggang and Linbian in Pingtung County, and Mailiao in Yunlin County in the South, where Taiwan’s largest petrochemical complex is located.

If global temperature is not controlled, sea-levels are predicted to rise further, and the second group of climate change victims could include all the delta areas of the world, such as the Ganges Delta in South Asia. These rising sea levels would also threaten to submerge Taiwan’s Ilan plain, the metropolitan Taipei basin and metropolitan Kaohsiung. Chen warned that the Taiwanese will be among the first wave of flood refugees in the global warming disaster.

Government urged to enhance climate security

The film urges its audience to send e-mails to President Ma Ying-jeou to elevate the concern within government regarding the issue of Taiwan’s climate security to the level of national security and to start a green revolution so as to “save the earth, save Taiwan and save our children.”

In an editorial, the Taipei-based China Times took the government to task for asking the people to reduce carbon emissions while the state-owned Taipower company is still prioritizing the construction of more power plants, petrochemical complexes and steel plants. The government seems a long way from matching words with action to tackle the looming catastrophe.

Commonwealth magazine paints a gloomy picture for Taiwan and its ability to cut emissions, saying that the international reality after the Copenhagen Summit on global climate changes brings heavy pressure to bear on Taiwan. Like Taiwan, many of its neighbors set hugely ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions at the meeting.

China pledged that the level of carbon emitted per unit of GDP in 2020 would be 40 to 50 percent lower than in 2005, while South Korea stated that its carbon emissions in 2020 would be 30 percent lower. Meanwhile, Taiwan has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions between 2016 and 2020 to the level of 2008, and to cut emissions to the level of 2000 by 2025.

Participation in emissions trading needed

For Taiwan alone, this goal is likely to be unachievable, said Wu Tsai-yi, president of the Taiwan Research Institute (TRI). According to current economic development trends, Taiwan’s GDP is predicted to grow 3.5 percent per year. This means Taiwan would have carbon emissions of 460 million metric tons in 2025, doubling that of 214 million metric tons in 2000. That is an average growth of 10 to 12 million metric tons per year.

A more realistic way for Taiwan to reduce carbon emissions is to go overseas to buy carbon rights or participate in emissions trading, also known as Cap and Trade, in addition to regional tree planting and the clean development mechanism (CDM). Under the Kyoto Protocol, this special arrangement allows industrialized countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment to invest in ventures that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emissions reduction in their own countries.

Wu said, according to the TRI study, every 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions would generate 0.06 to 0.08 percent of economic growth. If emissions cannot be cut, Taiwan has to limit its economic growth. According to Commonwealth, although Taiwan has ambitious cabon emissions reduction goals, it is not clear yet how the island could cope with this new situation after the Copenhagen Summit.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.