Written by Huang-Hsiung Hsu. The year 2021 is undoubtedly the Year of Climate Change: The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) released the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on 9 August. Furthermore, the Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to two climate change scientists on 5 October, and the UNFCCC COP26 is taking place in Glasgow on 1-12 November. e AR6 Working Group I report warned that a 1.5°C warming relative to 1850–1900 will occur in the next two decades regardless of what emission scenario might be taken, including the one that would limit warming below 1.5°C by the end of the century.
Written by Sung-Young Kim. Only days out from COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference – many commentators are now preoccupied with how the rising tensions in the geopolitical environment, especially between China and the U.S, will impact global climate action. Cooperation between countries could indeed help establish a consensus on the key clean energy technologies, green investments, and carbon reduction targets to accelerate global decarbonisation efforts.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. On Earth Day (April 22) of 2021, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen unveiled the goal of realizing carbon neutrality by 2050. By then, Taiwan is expected to absorb or eliminate all locally generated greenhouse gas to reduce the net emission to zero. Tsai reiterated this pledge in the National Day (October 10) speech. The government is also preparing to amend the 2015 Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (GGRMA) by stipulating the net-zero commitment and adopting the measure of carbon pricing. As the world leaders are gathered for the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), more than 130 countries made official promises to go net zero.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly affected Taiwanese’ travel destination choices. One of the most significant changes is the recent boom of citizens’ participation in nature-based outdoor recreation. These changes have clear influences on the environment. Some are positive, and some are negative. This impact can be observed in Taroko National Park and Yushan National Park. However, for destinations that have been heavily impacted by tourism, such as Lanyu, the sudden tourist increase makes environmental problems much worse.
Written by Mei-Fang Fan. At the meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee in March 2018, the convener of the cabinet-level Fact-Seeking Committee and other committee members urged the government to formulate compensation regulations as soon as possible to compensate the Tao tribe. The Executive Yuan had approved guidelines for the compensation and that a fund management board that includes residents will be established. However, Tao elder anti-nuclear activists said that the Tao tribe rejects the compensation at a protest in front of the Executive Yuan on 29 November 2019.
Written by Yeh-Tang Huang. On May 13th, 2021, Taiwan was paralysed by a national blackout. For five hours, multiple regions all over the country experienced periodic power outages that lasted for as long as 50 minutes at a time. Hundreds of people got stuck in elevators. The Central Epidemic Command Centre COVID-19 press conference that was happening was forced to end early. Traffic became a mess as traffic lights stopped working. Then on May 17th, another wave of blackout swept across the country. As disruptive as these blackouts were, they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Written by Paulina G. Karimova and Kuang-Chung Lee. Discussion of resilience and adaptive capacity of Taiwan’s scenic rural areas has never been more pertinent than at the times of COVID-19. Over 2020-2021, these two seemingly academic terms have promptly secured their spot in local vocabulary (as 韌性 and 調適能力) and became an intrinsic part of hands-on local solutions.
Written by Viola van Onselen. Tourism can significantly burden the natural environment, such as developing hotels or campsites in fragile ecosystems, pollution, or noise disturbance. The fact that tourism leads to environmental degradation has led to sustainable or eco-tourism, a concept that aims to minimise the impact on the natural environment and maintain tourism over a long period in one area while educating tourists and benefitting the social, economic and natural environment.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. Sitting right at the fracture zone between Eurasian Plate and Philippine Sea Plate, Taiwan is an outgrowth of their incessant continental collision, thus making this island mountainous and ecologically rich. The Japanese archipelago shares a similar geological location. Still, Taiwan has ten times more peaks over 3,000 meters above sea level (268) than Japan, although the land size is only the latter’s one-tenth. From the tropical fluvial plain, one can drive through the temperate-zone mountain and reach the highest point of Taiwan’s highway (3,275 meters) in few hours, where flora and fauna are analogous to that in the frigid zone. Yet, until recently, most of the island residents did not have the opportunity to enjoy this natural heritage.
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 Viola van Onselen and Tsung-Yi Lin. How does it feel to walk through a desert-like landscape of highly dynamic dunes, and how can Virtual Reality educate people in an interactive way about such an environment? You can now experience this in a new local geopark of Taiwan, the ‘Caota Sand Dunes.’ This geopark promotes the values of coastal dunes, and ongoing research explores new management strategies, local community involvement and the geological history of this environment. This short article highlights the potentials of dunes, the status of dune environments in Taiwan and how this local geopark can set an example as a foundation for Nature-based Solutions.
Written by Ti-han Chang. At the crossroad of the 21st century, we see the rise of a new transition in Taiwanese literature. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, environmental literature or ecocriticism, which was first established in the Anglophone literature begins to sow its seeds in Taiwan in the late 80s and early 90s. Alongside this new transition, aboriginal literature in Taiwan also underwent a phase of cultural renaissance in the same period. Work published by Syaman Rapongan 夏曼藍波安, Walis Nokan瓦歷斯諾幹, and Topas Tamapima 拓拔斯塔瑪匹瑪 (田雅各) enrich and diversify the literary scene in Taiwan. The work of Rapongan, which promotes sea-writing and oceanic cultural imaginary, deserves, especially our attention.