The former Governor of Taipei County (Xinbei City), Chou Hsi-Wei, talks about environmental policy in his constituency:
Climate change and the economic crisis are two challenges that all humans currently face. People must change their developmental practices and lifestyle. Taiwan needs to transform and move down the road towards low carbon development and a low carbon economy.
Due to the Industrial Revolution, humans have become increasingly materialistic. This materialistic mentality comes with pollution, resource overconsumption, and various environmental problems. After people were confronted with the emergency of climate change in the 1980s, climate change problems have been taken more seriously. However, there is still so much information we are unsure about. For instance, how we know which temperature rise will be most catastrophic for our planet? Scientists think 2°C might be the maximum. In order to protect the ecosystem, it is necessary to prevent the range of global warming from reaching 2°C. The global community should conserve energies and reduce carbon emissions. An 80% reduction in human-induced emissions by 2050 is required, or else, according to the fourth Assessment Report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming will be ongoing. Extreme weather events such as heat-waves, hurricanes, droughts, storms, and floods are likely to occur more often in the future.
Ocean island countries face rising sea levels, and their communities are experiencing a greater risk of drowning. Climate change is a crisis, but it can also create a turning point. People in the Netherlands have reached an agreement to establish strategies to confront climate change crisis. They have chosen to adapt a human-water symbiosis strategy rather than continue with its previous hydraulic-reclamation policy, thus creating a brand new environmental business opportunity for the country.
Taiwan is a sensitive, island country located in a high-potential natural disaster area; it cannot avoid the occurrence of natural calamities such as earthquakes and typhoons. Taiwan must be ready to effectively respond to events like the reduction of ecological impact, the challenge of producing an abundant food supply, and the protection of fresh water and oceans. Taiwan needs to have an international perspective and improve international perception of herself. Taipei County (now known as Xinbei City)—the biggest city in Taiwan— has established three official units in order to cope with the effect of climate change. The first unit is responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Low Carbon Development Center strives to popularize an energy-saving and low-carbon life-style in communities, residences, and businesses. The second unit, The Cleaning Production Center, assists and directs both domestic and foreign companies with green industry policies.
And lastly, through the establishment of the Sustainable Environmental Education Center, Taipei County’s policies can be administered more thoroughly while effectively achieving the goal of sustainability. Due to the effort of these three units, Taipei County has become the first low-carbon city in Taiwan. Moreover, by fining polluting industries and individuals, cleaning rivers, building artificial wetlands, we were able to make the Danshui River the cleanest it has been in the last 30 years.
Continuous efforts to expand and strengthen economies have caused us to deplete global resources despite the environment’s unremitting resistance towards our efforts. And even with these efforts, the constant strive to expand our economy has not provided us with the guarantee that our human race will be preserved for generations to come. As our world bears the consequences of global warming, cities should be leaders in bringing environmental issues to the forefront in the world trade arena.
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