Nine allies speak up for Taiwan at U.N. Climate Change conference

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COP24 President Michał Kurtyka (front row, 4th from R) and other participants pose for photo after adopting the Paris Agreement in Katowice, Poland on Dec. 15, 2018. Many heads of state, government and almost 100 Ministers of the Environment and of Foreign Affairs from all over the world participated in the United Nations COP24 two-week climate change conference.( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

TAIPEI (CNA) — Nine of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies spoke out against Taiwan’s exclusion at a major international Climate Change conference earlier this month, a Taiwanese environmental official who was in Poland during the meeting said Dec. 18.

The nine allies that spoke up for Taiwan during the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were Kiribati, Nauru, eSwatini, Tuvalu, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Honduras, Solomon Islands and Haiti, said acting Environmental Minister Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德).

Fifteen of Taiwan’s 17 allies also sent a letter to the organizers of the conference saying that Taiwan should not be excluded from the meeting and supporting Taiwan’s substantial participation in COP24, Tsai said at a press conference after returning to Taiwan.

The only two allies that did not sign the letter were the Vatican, which generally abstains from mentioning Taiwan at international gatherings, and Guatemala.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations and has been blocked by China from engaging in its many organizations and institutions, including participation in meetings related to the UNFCCC.

Though Taiwan was not allowed to take part in the COP24, Tsai headed a delegation of 60-plus representatives from different agencies that was in Poland to meet with other participants on the sidelines of the conference.

The delegation held 38 bilateral meetings with representatives from Taiwan’s allies and Taiwan-friendly countries and also met with Tuvalu’s prime minister, environmental ministers, and parliamentarians from several countries, according to Tsai.

Taiwan’s delegation also highlighted Taiwan’s carbon reduction efforts in the energy, manufacturing, transportation, real estate, agricultural and environmental sectors, Tsai said.

During the climate conference, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also placed moving billboard advertisements on trams bearing the words “Combating Climate Change, Taiwan can help,” with the aim of showing Taiwan’s soft power, Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵) said at the news conference.

The COP24 in Katowice that attracted 18,000 delegates from around the world concluded Dec. 16 with the adoption of a deadline for hashing out the Paris Agreement “rulebook,” the operating manual needed for when the global deal comes into force in 2020.

But participants did not reach a consensus on increasing targets for reducing carbon emissions and on carbon emissions trading issues, according to Tsai.

By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao