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US to continue cooperation with Taiwan on climate change

The United States will continue to work with Taiwan in dealing with the impact of global climate change as the two sides advance their cooperation on environmental protection, a visiting US official said Monday.

“We all face climate change together,” said US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We must fight it together.”

Devastating weather events like Hurricane Sandy, which drenched the northeastern US in 2012, and Super Typhoon Haiyan, which swept through the Philippines last November, are becoming more frequent and more powerful, she said in a speech at National Taiwan University in Taipei on 20 years of US-Taiwan Environmental Cooperation.

“These events are a threat to our safety, our public health and our economies,” she said, adding that no threat requires more commitment and cooperation than the threat of global climate change.

In the face of that threat, the US is firmly committed to joining Taiwan and other economies in the world in supporting research and in taking action to address it, McCarthy said.

Other major challenges that need to be tackled, McCarthy said, include site remediation, electronic waste, mercury, air and water issues, she said.

The US EPA will continue to partner with Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration to form a regional coalition of agencies in Asia that share technologies, programs, and practices that have been developed and implemented in Taiwan and the US, she added.

McCarthy also stressed the importance of education in dealing with regional challenges, citing as an example the Global Environmental Education Partnership between Taiwan and the US

McCarthy’s visit marks a 20-year partnership between the two countries dedicated to protecting the environment that began in 1993 when they signed an agreement on environmental protection cooperation.

Over the decades, the two sides have exchanged expertise on air and water quality, chemical safety, soil contamination, electronic waste recycling and others, she said.

“I’m so grateful for the 20 years of partnership and so looking forward to the next 20 with you,” she told the audience.

Her visit also comes just days after the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act on April 10, which she said has been the cornerstone of the relations between Washington and Taipei.

The two sides have deepened bilateral relations over the years, and the US remains committed to its “long-standing ‘one China’ policy based the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” she said.

McCarthy is the first US Cabinet-level official to visit Taiwan since then-Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater was here in June 2000, shortly after President Chen Shui-bian took office.

She will wrap up her three-day visit to Taiwan on Tuesday and will then travel to Hanoi to highlight bilateral environmental protection and underscore the importance of local and community engagement in protecting natural resources, a US EPA statement said.

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