Written by Denis Simon. In early 2021, Taiwan’s health care system was ranked number one globally for the third year in a row by NUMBEO’s Annual Online Survey. Its overall performance buoyed the island’s ability to consistently earn such a high ranking during the first 12-14 months of the Covid-19 global pandemic beginning in 2020. Taiwan officials initially were able to ward off any significant damage from the pandemic by pursuing a highly aggressive strategy to keep the virus at bay. While other international rankings, such as the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, do not rank Taiwan as number one in its rating system, there is consensus across the board internationally that the government has proven itself highly effective at managing its single-payer health care system, mainly due to its innovative approach to digital health records.
Written by Huang-Hsiung Hsu. Taiwan is currently suffering a severe drought. Water use restriction on agriculture, livelihood, and industry has been mounting since autumn 2020. No landfalling typhoons (except a minor one passing through the Luzon Strait in early November 2020 that brought very little precipitation) for the first time in 57 years led to our low water level in major reservoirs. These dry conditions were compounded by the following spring rainfall failure in 2021 (likely caused by the prevailing La Niña) that worsened the drought impacts. Nevertheless, a drought that usually lasted for few months was not uncommon in Taiwan and seemed to occur more frequently in recent decades.
Written by Brian Hioe. Taiwan’s international climate conference participation has been subject to the same dynamics applicable to other international organisations. However, Taiwan has often been pushed out because of Chinese pressure. Namely, when the Ma administration held power, Taiwan could participate as an observer in climate change summits that it was later excluded from when the Tsai administration took office.
Written by Milo Hsieh. Recently, discussions around energy have emerged again as interest groups fight over whether it is right for the Tsai administration to install a new natural gas receiving station in Taoyuan near an algae reef habitat. Although the term “algae reef (藻礁)” became social media’s hot topic in Taiwan for a while—similar to how “Salmon” has grabbed the attention of many these past weeks—underlying energy issues have not really been discussed.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima Incident. It is also likely to be a decisive moment for Taiwan’s anti-nuclear movement. Taiwan’s voters will head for a referendum on August 28 to decide whether to reactive the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP).
Written by Ma’ili Yee. A year after losing two of its Pacific Island allies, Taiwan continues to feel the mounting pressure of Chinese influence in the South-Pacific ocean. Within recent years, China has pointedly increased its presence in the Pacific through financial aid, commercial trade, and high-level diplomatic engagement. The four Pacific states of Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau now compose nearly a third of the remaining countries that officially recognize the ROC. Despite their small geographic and economic size, Taiwan would be wise to recognize these Pacific island nations’ immense political weight and properly address their top concerns—sustainable development and climate change—through concerted foreign policy.
Written by Natasha Heller. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces. A United Nations report has cautioned that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are at a record high, “with no signs of slowing down.” Many nations are recording weather extremes, higher average temperatures and rising seas. Meanwhile, the first wave of increasing numbers of climate refugees points to how a changing environment will reshape human life.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. Due to Taiwan’s geographical location and geological properties, the country is particularly at risk of the impact of climate change. Some apparent phenomena of climate change are that the frequencies of extreme precipitation events. Furthermore, extreme typhoon intensity is increasing. These phenomena have caused giant landslides, extensive landscape changes, and severe casualties across Taiwan. Many of the giant landslides occurred on the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, and thus they suffer from the most adverse impacts of climate change. Indigenous peoples are, but not the only, climate victims.
Written by Jing-Yi Zhong, Shun-Te Wang and Wan-Ting Hsu. Youth environmental NGOs, such as TWYCC, have their unique and flexible roles inside the UN-based climate governance framework. As a part of civil society, they can narrow the gap between Taiwan and the UN-based climate regime. Furthermore, as youth non-state actors, they can even access some of the UN’s resources regardless of their Taiwanese identity.
Written by Simona A. Grano. Taiwan should pursue its plan to reduce greenhouse gases thereby killing two birds with one stone: lowering domestic pollution and attracting international benevolence and visibility by portraying itself as a capable, self-sacrificing and noble ecological crusader.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. The Tao/Yami ethnic group – who live in Lanyu (Orchid Island), an island located along the eastern coast of Taiwan – boast