Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Thursday, 28 August 2008
Friday, 29 August 2008 02:10

Asia and Environmental Diplomacy

The exhaustion of natural resources and the damage to the ecological environment, competition for resources and environmental damage have become issues of concern in the international community. Environmental issues are redefining the notion of security. Consequently, initiatives have been flourishing: Japan launched its Cool Earth 50 initiative in May 2007. End of November 2007, the new Australian government put to immediate execution its decision to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In December 2007, the United Nations Climate Change conference held in Bali draw much international attention, as the question of which mechanism will succeed to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012 is becoming one of the main global concerns and fields of diplomatic initiative. The Bali forum has seen developed countries set more ambitious goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and developing countries such as Brazil and South Africa voluntarily proposing to set goals to reduce emissions. Also, innovative mechanisms for stopping the greenhouse effects of deforestation were agreed upon. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Bali roadmap, which charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 international agreement on climate change. In July 2008, the enlarged G8 summit in Japan was another stepping stone, closely followed by the largely successful Accra conference at the end of August 2008.

During the last 25 years or so, several significant documents and conferences testify to the development of environmental diplomacy as a choice area for multilateral, global cooperation: most often mentioned are the 1985 Vienna Convention on Protecting the Ozone Layer; the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer; the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, and its offshoots, Agenda 21 and the Commission on Sustainable Development; the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity; the 1994 UN Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development; the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change; the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa… Of decisive importance was the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

From what precedes it clearly appears that the prominent role now given to environmental diplomacy at the global level makes it impossible for any responsible nation-state not to actively participate in it. First, this derives from a sense of global responsibility. Second, the change in methods and focus that environmental diplomacy encompasses opens up new venues for a culture and a nation, allowing it to intensify and diversify its presence in the international arena. Finally, it allows a nation to encourage its citizens, its scientists, its entrepreneurs and its social agents to become a defining force of this global endeavor, such “democratizing” international relations..

At the same time, it should be recognized from the start that engaging into proactive environmental diplomacy comes with a requisite, i.e. making international and national policies fully congruent. If a nation engages further into the path of sustainable development, with all adjustments needed in terms of legal regulation, economic policies and social implications, then its sincerity will be recognized by the international opinion, and its moral status will be consequently enhanced. Conversely, if a nation’s international diplomacy does not go along concrete policies and far-reaching domestic initiatives, then it risks to be accused of making environmental diplomacy a ploy, weakening its moral status at a time when the effectiveness of national policies on the issues at stake is becoming the focus of attention.

The contribution of entrepreneurs and scientists is of primary importance. Developed nations have to take advantage of their energy-saving technologies and experience in solar power, organic agriculture, nature conservation, ecological tourism… in order to create more opportunities for environmental diplomacy. This should start from the example provided by their entrepreneurs. Responsible environmental behavior must not be limited to one’s territory but extend to all countries where industries have delocalized. The development of a culture of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among a nation’s entrepreneurs will go a long way in helping her to achieve a decisive advantage through environmental diplomacy.

Summing up, environmental diplomacy should be based on citizens’ and entrepreneurs’ participation, technical cooperation with interested countries, spreading of knowledge and experience, and sense of global responsibility. Such strategy aims at creating model experiences in national policies, international pilot projects and institutional innovations. As illustrated above, there cannot be efficient and convincing environmental policy without a national policy of sustainable development that involves governmental agencies in charge of economic affairs, agriculture, the environment and, eventually, all public policies.

Nations, especially in Asia, must deploy an even greater inventiveness. This starts by paying an acute attention to the changing nature of global challenges. The ongoing debate on sustainability - with more specific questions on global warming, developmental model, use of energy resources, preservation of biodiversity as well as cultural diversity - is the most striking example of the questions that they must confront. It is not enough for Asian “dragons” to have been pioneers of accelerated growth and of democratization, they have now to be at the forefront of a new global battle: the one engaged for making sure that future generations will benefit from environmental, cultural and energy resources sufficient for ensuring the satisfaction of their needs. This is the ultimate rationale behind the rise of environmental diplomacy.

Friday, 29 August 2008 02:09

Taiwan and Global Warming

Without any doubt, Taiwan has a role to play in the struggle against global warming. Its IT culture, its scientific sophistication and the vitality of its civil society are wonderful assets for becoming a model nation in Asia on the environmental area. At the same time, and as a prerequisite, Taiwan must honestly recognize that it is still not a model country when it comes to carbon emissions and other environmental issues. It certainly has achieved a lot for limiting the effects of its population density and industrial development, enacting a body of environmental legislation that is among the most advanced in the world. However, the country produces one percent of the world carbon dioxide emissions, far beyond its population share, and the per capita growth of these emissions is extremely rapid. Each Taiwanese resident produces on average about 12 metric tons of CO2 gas emissions per year, the highest per capita emission level in Asia. A few industries still disproportionally contribute to the country’s emissions. Towards the end of 2007, reacting to this situation, Nobel laureate and former Academic Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh suggested that Taiwan should aim at stabilizing the carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 at the level it was at in 2000.Therefore, Taiwan must follow international guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions control. It might also consider implementing market based instruments, such as polluting rights trading, possibly adapted from the European Emissions Trading System that largely defines international standards in the field. Concurrently, diplomatic effort would make sure that such mechanisms be recognized by the European Union and other countries. Taiwan’s efforts towards a greener developmental model will thus bear immediate international dividends. There is an additional reason for moving on this topic: the EU and other countries have already strongly hinted that, from 2012 on, they may impose import taxes on goods produced in high carbon-emitting countries. The effect on Taiwan industries could be severe if their record has not improved in the meanwhile. In other words, environmental efficiency and economic competitiveness are becoming one and the same imperative.

Attached media :
Global warming is not only a ‘hot” topic, it is also a “hotly debated” one… Emerging countries accuse the Western countries of having been, by far, the largest producers of greenhouse gases for the last century and half, of remaining the biggest emitters per capita, and of protecting their lifestyle while pretending to prohibit to others fair access to the same standards. However, years of discussions and the drafting of international mechanisms have improved the terms of debate and mutual understanding. While the agreement reached between emerging countries and the G8 group at the meeting held in Japan in July remains vague and unsatisfactory, however its overall phrasing augur well for the conclusion, circa 2010, of an international agreement that will follow the Kyoto Protocol. That protocol was itself an annex to the conclusions of the Convention on Climate Change adopted at the "Earth Summit" in Rio in 1992.

At the same time, the challenge of climate change alters our global culture, the perception of our belonging to a single human community. Climate change increases both the chance to see the emergence of a true international society and the risk of further harden the "clash of civilizations." Such risk is linked to the transfer or depletion of resources related to climate change, with potential conflicts over access to water or fertile territories, accompanied perhaps by the migration of "environmental refugees." In such a context, resentment related to history, religions, conflicts of identity will take on increased importance. In summary, global warming radicalizes the issues of coexistence among cultures and nations.

Friday, 29 August 2008 02:02

Climate change and cultural change








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Friday, 29 August 2008 00:00

Local Democracy and Climate Change

Urbanization has spread to the entire planet: the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas versus only 14% in 1900. This is not necessarily bad news: in fact, the city, say many analysts, can become a privileged place in the fight against climate change; the streamlining of the systems of transportation, water sanitation, energy distribution provide evidences of this fact. The experimental construction of "green buildings" that produce the energy they consume is another step forward. The city is also a place where information flows, a place of inventions, of collective discussion, and, as such, it can generate a number of innovative measures.

Actually, when it comes to the relationship between city and global warming, much will depend on ourselves, on the moral and political environment that policy makers forge for urban dwellers and on the collective conscience that we will develop. In this regard, the role of locally elected officials is essential. The development of downtown, the connections between downtown and suburbs, the method of garbage collection and recovery, the renovation of the systems of water sanitation... Each time, these issues prove to be partly technical, partly political, for it is always necessary to challenge vested interests and viewpoints so as to build a city at once more hospitable, more balanced and more human. Local democracy helps to introduce clearly the choices and issues at stake, giving people information and criteria that will allow them to understand, taking into account the diversity of their viewpoints, how to meet the "general interest". Yes, it is through local democracy that will emerge responsible, compact and united cities, carrying an innovative environmental project.

When it comes to environmental issues, should not the cities of the world hold more local referenda? Without doubt this is a good way to settle in difficult situations, when the fight against global warming requires sacrifices (use of automobiles, water prices, choice of such investment rather than another ...) It is up to the citizens then duly informed, to state the scale of their priorities and their values… and to draw the consequences of them. So, let us make local democracy become a decisive factor in the global struggle against climate change!

(Photo: B.V.)
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:23

Beichuan, 100 days after

Pictures taken by Liang Zhun in Beichuan, epicenter of the Sichuan earthquake, one hundred days after the seism, during a ceremony for the dead.


一個考上台大社工研究所榜首後,卻改行畫畫的女生。辦過數次油畫個展及亞太女畫家聯展,出版繪本《我的32個臉孔》、《夏綠蒂的愛情習題》,曾獲十大傑出女青年獎、台北國際書展Best From Taiwan(繪本類)、台北市美展、竹塹文學獎、耕莘文學獎…等。







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Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:22








Thursday, 28 August 2008 19:12






主打永續和企業責任議題的英國Futerra企業顧問公司今年出版的《漂綠指南》(Greenwash Guide)手冊說,在一九九○年代,漂綠只偶爾出現幾次高潮;那時候,購物時關心環保,還只是一小群人腦袋裡的事,大多的公司也還沒有想到要做環保宣傳。







瑞士的非政府組織伯恩宣言(Berne Declaration)每年初都會趁世界經濟論壇(WEF)舉行全球矚目的年會之際,在場外公布負面的「公眾之眼」獎,諷刺缺乏企業社會責任的大公司。今年德國拜爾作物科學公司就以漂綠生質燃料入圍。


航空旅行與「碳補償」(carbon offset)是另一個當前熱門的漂綠議題。最近幾年,航空旅客在購買機票時,可能會被問到要不要支付一筆額外費用,抵消他/她這趟航程造成的環境衝擊。所謂抵消的方式,就是這筆錢會花在諸如種樹或資助開發中國家一些提高能源效率的計畫上。
設在阿姆斯特丹的智庫跨國研究所(Transnational Institute)的一個研究計畫「碳交易觀察」(Carbon Trade Watch)去年出版一份《碳平衡的迷思》報告,其中就指出,碳補償不能解決問題,只是在躲避及拖延問題。報告說,「根本不可能精確計算有多少二氧化碳能夠被『平衡』掉」。



Thursday, 28 August 2008 18:59





一九九二年巴西里约热内卢「地球高峰会」中所提出的「21世纪议程」(Agenda 21),为当前强调永续发展的主流趋势掀起了壮阔的序幕。随后一九九六年在土耳其召开的「城市高峰会议」(City Summit),更提出了「健康、安全、平等、永续」四大目标做为城市发展的指标概念。但面对群聚生活需求与自然环境之间的紧张关系,当前的局势已逼使我们不得不面对。全球暖化影响了全球的气候,季节温度异常、降雨类型和降雨量的诡谲、洪水泛滥加剧、海平面上升以及各种气象事件等不断地发生。













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