December 7, 2022
What are the Main Environmental Issues Facing Taiwan?
Taiwan, the 8th largest economy in Asia based on purchasing power parity (PPP), is a jurisdiction on the move and yearning for faster growth. Its GDP per capita has risen rapidly from 3,446.2 in 1980 to 62,696.1 in 2022. Even COVID-19 which started in 2020, could not impact its positive per capita growth significantly; it remained on an uptrend as others faltered. However, the jurisdiction is faced with serious environmental issues that are threatening to tear it apart unless urgent actions are taken. As the world quickly embraces sustainability, Taiwan is reeling from serious challenges that could rapidly undo its years of steady growth. Unlike in the past, more stakeholders want to be associated with companies committed to responsible and ethical operations, with cutting down carbon footprint coming at the top of the list. Let’s dig in and take a closer look at these challenges facing Taiwan.
A Brief about Taiwan
Before the Martial Law was lifted in 1987, Taiwan reported three decades of massive industrialization with little or no regard for the environment. The impact was serious environmental degradation, which formed the basis of the current threats facing the jurisdiction. When it stopped relying on aid, which mainly came from western states, it reported a huge growth that propelled it into a global powerhouse.
Between 1981 and 1995, the Taiwan economy grew by an average of 7.5%, with the service niche taking the lion's share of 51.6%. By 1999, Taiwan was at par with the rest of the economies in the region. Now, the jurisdiction is facing issues that are similar to other developed nations. This includes environmental challenges.
As we are going to see in the next part, Taiwan is increasingly relying on technology to counter these environmental challenges. For example, the high cost of labour has made it turn to developing markets, such as Thailand and the Philippines. So, are the efforts employed by Taiwan ample to counter the environmental challenges?
Common Environmental Issues Facing Taiwan
The environment is the first pillar of sustainability/ ESG, which is used to assess a country, city, business, or individual's commitment to making the world a better place for all. Others are social and governance, and it is crucial to strike a balance to be considered fully sustainable. The main environmental dangers facing the island nation are:
- Climate Change
As a low-lying island that is located at the confluence of three main rivers, Taiwan is vulnerable to major disasters related to global warming. Global warming is the rise in surface temperatures caused by the excessive release of greenhouse gases (GHG) that trap heat in the lower atmosphere. The rise in global temperatures is causing rapid thawing of water stored in poles and prompting extreme weather patterns, including typhoons. This is where Taiwan feels the greatest negative impact.
One example of these tropical weather systems was Typhoon Haiyan, which was one of the most devastating in Taiwan’s history. The path of the typhoon was characterised by landfalls, especially in the eastern part, and unprecedented mass destruction. When the superwind calmed down, a total of 6,300 deaths were recorded and 4.1 million people were displaced. This was approximately ¼ of the country’s population.
While Taiwan has worked hard to restore its operations, the government, businesses, institutions, and community live in fear of one thing: the danger of the next hurricane because of the growing levels of greenhouse gases (GHG). What makes climate change more stressful is that the nation is suffering from greenhouse gases (GHG) from all jurisdictions around the globe, some thousands of miles from Taiwan.
- High Pollution of Taiwan Water Systems
Taiwan, like other countries that have experienced rapid industrialization, has reported a severe degradation of its rivers. In Taiwan, its rivers are very crucial for the supply of clean water because the neighbouring Pacific and East China Sea are salty. Industrial, municipal and agricultural pollution has caused huge damage to aquatic ecosystems.
The impact of this pollution is a rapid loss of fresh water for the local population. It is also accelerating the loss of biological diversity in the jurisdiction. One example is the use of ammonium-based fertilisers in agricultural fields, which has resulted in the rapid decline of the freshwater Corbicula fluminea Formosa, also known as Taiwan Clam. The species was so abundant, but it is no longer easy to spot it today.
According to data from the Ministry of the Interior's Construction and Planning Agency, there have been major efforts to treat municipal wastes, but the variations in different cities is a major concern. In Taipei, about 94% of black water is treated before getting released into the natural waterway, but other urban areas like Tainan only treat 59%. Failing to treat wastewater and other municipal wastes is a major source of methane, one of the main greenhouse gases (GHG).
- Rapid Loss of Natural Habitats for Development
Taiwan's mountains are crucial water sources. In addition, they act as natural habitats/ homes for wild animals, from birds to mammals. After the development of the Northern, Central, and Southern Cross-Island highways, the lives of the local people improved a great deal. More people joined, and the mountains are now over-cultivated, and urban and industrial centres are emerging everywhere.
While development is crucial, Taiwan and, indeed, the entire globe have to appreciate the importance of species diversity. Particularly, the forested mountains and hills should be conserved to act as carbon sinks for greenhouse gases (GHG) and protect biodiversity.
Expert Suggestions for Addressing these Issues
The problems we have highlighted above are only a scratch on the surface for Taiwan. The list can be way longer, including declining soil fertility and less fish supplies. What is more important are the strategies that Taiwan, its authorities, business leaders and other parties take to address them. So, let’s highlight some of these efforts:
- Regular Training for Sustainability
The first step in addressing environmental issues in Taiwan is through sustainability training. Without the right information about sustainability, it is almost impossible for people to take ethical and responsible actions. To get more from sustainability coaching, make sure to work with experts, such as Climate Fresk.
The experts follow international best practices to help parties understand their impacts and make the best decisions. Climate Fresk emphasises that the challenges facing farmers, businesspeople, and institutions are caused not just by their operations, but also by those of other countries across the globe. This makes them to be extra careful about the actions they take to reduce negative impacts both locally and internationally.
Another impressive thing about Climate Fresk is that its professionals can help you craft plans for action. They look at your situation and assist you in crafting plans and drawing the best solutions. Every party in Taiwan needs a helping hand, and Climate Fresk can be this support for success.
- Support for Greening Initiatives
To counter the dangers facing Taiwan and the entire planet, it is prudent for the jurisdiction and corporate leadership to think broadly. Particularly, it is crucial to look for green initiatives that can help to support ecological restoration. Good examples of such initiatives are teams that plant trees or reforest bare lands in the highlands.
Remember that the support for such initiatives should be counted alongside other efforts, such as cutting down carbon footprint when preparing ESG reports. Again, support for greening initiatives does not have to be in Taiwan only. If you find a good project that can help to sink huge quantities of greenhouse gases (GHG) far away from Taipei, go ahead and support it.
- Shift to Renewable Energy
One of the reasons why Taiwan has a high per capita carbon footprint is that the bulk of its energy is from coal and natural gas. The better alternative, if your company or institution wants to cut down its greenhouse gases (GHG), is shifting to renewable energy. The good thing about using renewable energy is that Taiwan gets ample sunshine most of the time of the year.
Note that using renewable energy to cut down carbon footprint might appear expensive at first, but the long-term impact will be pretty low. For example, you will not be receiving regular utility bills. If the cost for initial installation is too high, it is advisable to do it in phases. You might want to start by installing solar panels to power one part of your business before adding more to power the rest of the enterprise.
- Improve Energy Efficiency of Different Systems Used in a Building
Another method of addressing environmental challenges in Taiwan is improving the efficiency of business, homes, and institutional systems. You can target the following three areas:
- Improve the Efficiency of the Lighting System
You can improve the efficiency of a company's lighting system by installing energy-efficient LED lamps and smart management systems. LED lamps use about 75% less energy compared to traditional incandescent lamps. Again, the energy management system can help to ensure that lamps are always turned off when people are away from the offices.
- Improve the Efficiency of the Machinery
Failure to improve machines in your company can result in a rapid decrease in their efficiency, making them use more energy. This would ultimately push up your carbon footprint. To avoid this, you should adopt a proactive maintenance schedule, which can help your company predict damages and have them fixed before breakdowns.
- Use CONTINEWM to Improve the Efficiency of HVAC System
This is one of the best methods of cutting down energy use and carbon footprint. CONTINEWM is a device that is used to help reduce the release of positive electrostatic charges, which cause resistance of airflow in a HVAC system. It counters them by releasing negative charges, resulting in smooth airflow in an air conditioning system.
You can cut down the energy use of a HVAC system by about 50% when you install CONTINEWM. We must also say that it comes with loads of other benefits, including ease of installation, and low maintenance cost. Do not let the HVAC system compromise your effort to cut down greenhouse gases in Taiwan: it is time to use CONTINEWM.
Taiwan is experiencing a long list of environmental problems, which require urgent action to avert looming disasters. Although some of them are a result of what is happening in other countries, there is so much that the Taiwan government, individual institutions, and businesses can do, starting with the suggestions we have highlighted in this post, to counter them. Remember to evaluate the success of the selected strategy to cut down carbon footprint or achieve pre-set goals and make adjustments for better results.