About 100 environmental activists held a rally in Taipei Friday to urge the government to implement concrete measures to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution, as part of the global movement to raise awareness of climate change.
The event, which started with young people sharing their ideas about global warming in front of a setting similar to that in the painting "The Last Supper" to symbolize utter despair, called for the implementation of deep decarbonization policies, organizers said.
Air Clean Taiwan Chairman Yeh Kuang-peng (葉光芃) advocated that the government follow the "Taiwan Deep Decarbonization Policy White Paper" released by Academia Sinica earlier this year to reduce annual carbon emissions per person to 1.7 metric tons by 2050.
That was the goal set by the Paris Agreement reached by 195 United Nations members in 2015, and has been the level advocated by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), a global consortium formed in 2013 to take seriously the issue of what is needed to limit global warming to 2 degrees or less.
Taiwan's main global warming initiative was the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, first implemented in 2015, which committed the country to reducing carbon emission levels to 50 percent of 2005 levels by 2050.
But the white paper argued that this approach, if successful, would still only reduce carbon emissions per person to 5.4-6 metric tons by 2050, far higher than the figure set by the DDPP needed to keep warming within acceptable levels.
The environmental groups holding the rally said Taiwan lacks a long-term climate policy to address the environmental problem properly, citing the white paper's findings.
According to the white paper, Taiwan is not dealing with the climate issue based on a macroscopic approach, instead simply evaluating and devising new carbon reduction plans every five years, and it suggested Taiwan follow the DDPP approach.
It advocated phasing in a carbon trading system and energy tax to give businesses and consumers the right incentives and the adoption of a comprehensive climate act to serve as a national guideline.
The activists expressed a general distrust of government commitments to promote sustainability through goals set for 2040 or 2050.
Speaking at the event in front of the Legislative Yuan, 10th grader Emma Liu (劉采薇) echoed Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg -- whose demand for stronger climate actions have led to worldwide school strikes -- and said the public should take action now to fight global warming before it is too late.
"There are no emergency exits. This isn't the Avengers or Star Wars. We cannot just take a capsule and 'poof' ourselves out of this world," said Liu.
"Humans have the power to kill an entire planet in a short amount of time. That means we are also strong enough to reverse the consequences of our actions," added Moa Sera, a Japanese student.
The Japanese student warned that at this point in history, the situation will not get better by 2050 unless companies and individuals develop a sense of urgency and work as hard as they can to reduce the effects of climate change as fast as humanely possible.
Besides the problem of global warming, Yeh said, there should be tighter control of air pollutants such as fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), PM10, ozone and nitrogen dioxide.
He suggested that Taiwan adopt the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for PM2.5, which stipulates an average concentration level of no more than 10 µg/m3 annually and 25 µg/m3 over a 24-hour period.
At present, Taiwan's allotted concentration level for PM2.5 is 15 µg/m3 annually and 35 µg/m3 over a 24-hour period.
Lawmakers, scholars and artists also showed their support for the event, with a group of performers painted in white from head to toe marching for an hour in bare feet to mourn species that may go extinct due to the greenhouse effect. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)