Blog Post #4: Pollution and Activism in Taiwan

Considering the state of the world, the proven increase in fossil fuels entering our atmosphere and the resulting warming of the world (i.e. global warming), the first step countries must make is moving away from these toxins. Larger world powers should be the first to take these steps, as they are the largest contributors to the emissions of fossil fuels and other atmospheric-destructive gases. This includes moving toward electric transportation and natural gathering of said electricity. The use of hydro-electric power plants, wind turbines and solar panels would highly decrease the release of toxins because “emissions associated with renewable energy—including manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance, and dismantling and decommissioning—are minimal,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, citing data gathered by the International Panel on Climate Change.

International entities such as the United Nations has made several efforts to battle the causes of climate change amongst its members, though not all have succeeded. The most recent was held in 2015 in Paris, France, though was not celebrated by many due to its lack of a binding agreement, only “promises.”

Taiwan was left out of these negotiations, as well as all foreseeable negotiations in the future due to its relationship beside (or under) China. Many believed it should be part of the discussions as its air quality and amount of emissions is considerably high and borderline out of control. Just in February, the Taiwanese Environmental Protection Agency has warned that air quality is at an status of being unhealthy for residents of Southern and Central Taiwan, Western Taiwan and a new study found that warming waters were hitting native species hard. One study found that the increase of deaths related to air pollution in Southern Taiwan has increased by 12 percent.

Despite it’s lack of a presence on the international stage, forces within Taiwan are banding together to fight the rise in pollution in their country. Thousands of protesters came together in the cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung to protest climate change and anyone who doubts its existence. They specifically targeted the government in their calls for something to be done about the consistently poor air quality throughout the country.

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The 350 Organization, an organization actively “building a global climate movement,” is active in Taiwan and holds an event in Taipei, Kaohsiung called “Taiwan Power Shift.” The event is for young environmentalists to learn how they can contribute to the global movement within their own regions of Taiwan.

Taiwan has succeeded in some advancements technologically when it comes to fighting climate change. Taiwanese scientists created technology to cut down on agricultural waste by converting it into bioethanol. Those pellets can then be used as fuel, which can be used to reduce waste and improve air quality throughout the region. Companies are also taking the steps to use renewable energy to run their plants. One in particular, I-Mei Foods, was crowned Taiwan’s leader in green power buying in January and February this year. Other companies on the list of companies taking significant advantage of green power include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Chunghwa Telecom Co. I-Mei Foods also founded I-Mei Environmental Protection Foundation over 20 years ago, which funds protection for the endangered Siberian Tiger and also sponsors projects by Dr. Jane Goodall and nesting programs for local green sea turtles.

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