Taiwan calls for support to take part in climate talks

As negotiators in Lima work towards a global climate deal, Taiwan is relegated to the fringes by mainland China

Only 22 countries formally recognise the government in Taipei (Pic: Flickr/Yvon Liu)

Only 22 countries formally recognise the government in Taipei
(Pic: Flickr/Yvon Liu)

By Megan Darby in Lima

Taiwanese delegates are hoping negotiators will this week support the country’s bid to take part in the UN climate process as an official observer.

Beijing opposes the move, insisting that Taiwan will one day be reunited with the mainland. The island has been self-governing for six decades but its sovereignty is not recognised internationally.

A cross-party group of Taiwanese lawmakers met their Peruvian counterparts in Lima on Friday, as part of efforts to win backing.

Wen-Yan Chiau, of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, told RTCC they had more than 40 bilateral friendships.

“They say they will try their best to support our country,” he said.

ANALYSIS: Is it time Taiwan took a seat at UN climate talks?

The European Parliament, Belgium, Ireland and 11 US states have passed resolutions in favour of Taiwan’s bid since 2011.

At last year’s UN climate conference in Warsaw, 16 countries spoke up for the Taiwanese.

They are asking for observer status, a half-way house to full membership occupied by the Palestine and the Vatican.

But without Beijing’s blessing, it is hard to win enough support, said opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member Yi-Jin Yeh.

“We all know our participation here is very difficult because China is behind this whole problem,” said Yeh.

“Taiwan can make great contributions. If the world really thinks this [climate change] is a serious issue, they should be able to show support for us.”

Mainland China’s stance is “unreasonable”, added Chen-Chang Lai of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

ANALYSIS: Diplomatic limbo lets Taiwan dodge climate responsibility

Meanwhile, the island’s representatives are trying to make their voices heard at climate talks ongoing in Lima through side events.

It is the last major conference to thrash out the issues before countries are set to agree a global climate deal in Paris next year.

As a sub-tropical Pacific nation, Taiwan is vulnerable to typhoons and other weather extremes that are set to intensify with climate change.

It has found solidarity from the much smaller Pacific island states that are threatened by sea level rise.

“Like the atoll nations, Taiwan is an island. Geographically speaking, we share a lot of similarities,” said KMT’s Huei-Chen Chiang.

“We are facing economic impacts and environmental impacts and changes in our lifestyle.

“We can share our experiences and our knowledge with other societies.”

It is a relatively significant emitter, accounting for around 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas releases.

And as the second largest producer of solar panels globally, Taiwan is promoting low carbon exports.

Bi-Ling Kuan, DPP, said: “Before we have official status to be here at the climate change conference, to really have substantial movements forward is a very difficult thing.”

Read more on: China | Climate politics | COP20 | UN climate talks