Interview with Ya-Ping “Abby” Lee, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv in an exclusive conversation on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27).
The forum “Environment and Development 2022: The Road to COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh”, which started on Sunday, is organised by the Arab Water Council under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Environment.
It is also very important for the development of the Middle East as a geopolitical point in this part of the world, and with a view to the whole globe in the joint fight against environmental problems that concern us all.
Also, the interesting perspective of Taiwan, which, as part of Asia, responds to a short- and medium-term challenge in the environmental field with respect to industrial, economic and social development.
David A. Rosenthal: How important is the state of the environment to the world?
Abby Lee: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As heat waves swept across Europe and the United States, and more and more forest fires and floods devastated many countries, we were reminded once again that catastrophes caused by extreme weather are increasingly destructive and continue to transcend national borders. No country can escape the climate crisis. More ambitious climate action is needed to save our planet before it is too late.
D.A.R: Why is Taiwan one of the countries promoting environmental protection and the fight against climate change?
AL: Taiwan believes that all countries in the world must make collective efforts to combat the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change.
Taiwan manufactures more than 80% of ICT-related equipment and plays a key role in the global supply chain. As a responsible player in the international community, Taiwan has announced our goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and the four transition strategies focusing on energy, industry, lifestyle and society have been undertaken. In addition to making our country greener and more sustainable, Taiwan also upholds the spirit of mutual assistance for mutual benefit and has cooperated with our diplomatic allies and friendly countries to strengthen capacity to address climate mitigation and adaptation and to enhance energy efficiency, agricultural resilience and develop carbon-neutral tourism through technology transfer, green finance, capacity building and talent training.
D.A.R: Why does China have a different environmental policy than other countries?
AL: I cannot answer this on behalf of Chinese officials, but again, we like to reiterate that the fight against climate change requires collective action and that it is a matter of life and death in the future. It serves no one’s interests to deny Taiwan’s participation in global action because of its own political agenda.
D.A.R: What is the future of the world if nothing is done for the environment?
AL: It is a matter of life and death in the long term. In the short term, the most eminent challenge is food security. We call on the international community to put aside political considerations and turn the challenges into new opportunities to defend the common destiny of humanity.
D.A.R.: What can Taiwan contribute to Israel and the world at large in this regard?
AL: Taiwan has built a strong technology and R&D base for the zero transition, focusing on five areas: sustainable energy, low carbon, circularity, carbon negative and social science. We are willing to share that experience with like-minded friends. Israel also has very strong R&D in clean technology. I believe that the partnership and cooperation between Taiwan and Israel can create synergies beyond our imagination and benefit the world. Making the transition to net zero emissions is a collective responsibility of this generation. Taiwan has the absolute willingness to work hand in hand with all countries of the world and the capacity to contribute to this pressing global issue.
D.A.R.: What studies does Taiwan have on this issue and which expert?
AL: The climate change programme is the main aáreaof our researchers at the university and the main subject of our international cooperation and joint research projects. Taiwan is willing to help and is helping. What we need is equal opportunities and fair iinclusiónin this collective action.
D.A.R: How does Taiwan’s vvisiónfor 2050 impact the environment in a positive way and how can it also serve the world?
AL: On Earth Day 2021, President Tsai Ing-wen announced Taiwan’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve its goal of zero net emissions by 2050, Taiwan has set the following targets: (1) renewable energy accounts for more than 60% of electricity supply; (2) 100% of new buildings; (3) more than 85% of existing buildings are near-zero carbon buildings; (4) 100% of the installation rate of smart substations. Taiwan not only pledges to invest US$30 billion by 2030 to realise the transition of green economy and society, but also encourages our enterprises to achieve this goal. For example, 20 major Taiwanese companies have committed to use 100% renewable electricity by 2050.
As the world’s 21st largest economy, Taiwan’s total trade value ranks 16th in the world and its ICT industry plays a crucial role in global technology supply chains. Taiwanese technology giants, including the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, founded the Taiwan Climate Partnership (TCP). TCP aims to steer the technology industry towards a low-carbon transition. It encourages the supply chains of Taiwan’s technology giants, consisting of thousands of companies around the world, to take pragmatic steps to meet the goal of net zero emissions. This demonstrates the ambitious leadership of Taiwanese companies in advancing a sustainable economy in the Indo-Pacific. We believe it will also have a very positive impact on the world.