日前英國財政大臣Gordon Brown委託前世界銀行首席經濟學家史登（Nicholas Stern）爵士進行關於氣候變化之經濟衝擊的一項研究評估報告指出，目前如不採取行動來緩和氣候變化，則所造成之損害成本將會高出許多；亦即越早行動越有可能減少未來損害的成本，而且如果排放減量政策設計良善，減量成本將處於可控制範圍內，史登估計全世界需投入全球國內生產毛額百分之ㄧ，否則未來將多付出5倍至 20倍以上的代價來彌補。
According to the recent report on the economics of climate change by former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, commissioned by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, if no action is taken now to mitigate climate change, the costs from the resulting damages would be much higher; therefore, early action could reduce the costs of damages in the future. If emissions reduction policies were well designed, the reduction costs would be manageable. Stern estimates that the world need to spend about 1% of global GDP now, or pay for the costs that would be 5 to 20 times in the future.
The recent worldwide release of the movie "The Inconvenient Truth" has triggered large response. Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore raised the shocking scenario of the Greenland ice sheet possibly melting within the 21th Century, not only sinking many island and coastal countries, but also inundating the state of Florida and major cities such as New York and Shanghai. At the same time, large amount of freshwater would enter the North Atlantic Ocean and interfere with the thermohaline circulation, possibly bringing the world into a little Ice Age that would last hundreds of years. These are the focus of some major international scientific journals in recent years, as well as the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, assessing the worrisome impacts of global warming in the future.
Taiwan is an island country situated between the Asian continent and the Pacific Ocean, an area sensitive to the impacts of climate change, directly affecting the hydrology, water resources, agricultural production and water use, public health and ecology of the entire island. Research has shown that in recent years, the average river flow in Taiwan is becoming more extreme, with more flow during wet season and less flow during dry season, and the occurrence of dengue fever in southern Taiwan is gradually moving north. Furthermore, our vulnerable environment faces the problems of typhoons and storms every year. We urgently need to be concerned with how to lower risks and damages, and that is how to reduce the impacts of climate change on Taiwan and to prepare well for adaptation.
According to the statistics of Germany's Munich Re, global economic losses from climate-related disasters totaled about US$204 billion in 2005, twice that of 1998, and insurance losses reached a historical high of US$92 billion. Of the total, Hurricane Katrina caused financial losses of more than US$125 billion and insurance losses of US$60 billion. According to our insurance industry statistics, insurance losses from typhoons and flooding in Taiwan rose from NT$27 million in 2003 to NT$1.267 billion in 2005, an increase of 47 folds.
We can feel more and more climate change and need to spend more on climate change prediction modeling and more budget on adaptation strategies. We need to more aggressively develop and improve climate warning systems, such as typhoon, drought, floods, and landslide warning systems, as well as promote a national disaster prevention system. We need to focus more on economic impacts and adaptation, and this is the direction of our long-term efforts.
Since the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol in February 2005, countries worldwide have started dialogue and action on mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In response this global environmental issue, Taiwan convened the National Energy Conference, National Sustainable Development Conference, and Conference on Sustaining Taiwan’s Economic Development, in order to review our energy policy and greenhouse gas reduction strategies, and the Executive Yuan also passed the draft “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act”. In accordance with the spirit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Taiwan will mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gases with cost-effective and least-cost methods and pursue sustainable development.
Taiwan EPA indicates that the principles of the draft Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act include: common but differentiated responsibility, preventing climate change with cost-effectiveness, and pursuing sustainable development. Since efforts to reduce greenhouse gases cannot be done in one step, the Act provides gradual promotion of reduction: adjusting reduction potential, such as increasing energy efficiency and developing renewable energy, implement industrial greenhouse gas accounting and reporting, and greenhouse gas efficiency indicator management, then move toward a cap and trade scheme. The Act will serve as a bridge between domestic integrative policy-making mechanism and international cooperation, in order to reduce uncertainty in policy-making, and through the legislation process, to show our position and determination to promote greenhouse gas reduction.
Taiwan EPA emphasizes that due to Taiwan's unique international status, we still are not able to become a member of the United Nations, and thus cannot sign the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. However, as an island country, Taiwan cannot avoid the impacts of climate change, and if we do not proactively promote greenhouse gas reduction today, we will regret it tomorrow.