Taiwan's Temperatures and Emissions Rise on Impact of Air Pollution

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 4 (UPI) — Taiwan’s temperatures have risen by an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to a government study.

Despite Taiwan’s rise in temperatures, sunny hours in the country have fallen. The decline — attributed to air pollution and suspended particles that had blocked the sunshine — ranges from 176 hours per year in the north to 552 hours per year in central Taiwan, the Central News Agency reports.

Taiwan’s sea level has risen an average of 1.18 inches over the past 10 years, or about 0.11 of an inch each year, according to Fan Kuang-lung, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography.

Taiwan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change due to global warming and the pumping of underground water for farming and household use, said Fan, CNA reports. “Flooding will become the norm in some western tidal land areas,” he said.

Taiwan has also recorded the world’s highest growth in greenhouse gas emissions — 138 percent — over the past 16 years, said Liang Chi-yuan, a government minister.

But Taiwan will have to spend twice as much as other countries as a percentage of its gross domestic product to meet international carbon emissions reduction targets, said Yang Jih-chang, a senior adviser to the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Because it has few natural resources and its industrial sector accounts for more than 50 percent of annual GDP, Yang estimates it would cost Taiwan $3.1 billion to $4.65 billion annually to meet the International Energy Agency’s recommendation that countries spend up to 0.5 percent of GDP to keep greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million by 2020.

Yang Chi-yuan, an associate professor at Chinese Culture University, said the government should not plot a carbon-reduction target using a top-down centralized process. He suggests instead that Taiwan allow agencies in charge of transportation, industrial and economic affairs to set targets based on practical abilities.

“We need not follow European and American countries in setting carbon reduction targets because their regulations do not necessarily meet Taiwan’s needs,” Yang Chi-yuan said, CNA reports.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen said the government has passed laws on energy management and renewable energy development, admitting that more work still needs to be done.

“Once the statutes governing energy taxes and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are enacted, our legal framework on carbon reduction will be complete,” Shen said.

He urged Taiwan Power Co. to reduce the percentage of fossil fuels in its energy generation.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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