By Brian Hioe

As part of the Global Climate Strike taking place from September 20 to September 27, hundreds participated in Taipei’s climate rally today despite rainy weather.

Protesters started marching from outside of the Legislative Yuan and continued to the Red House by Ximending, past the 228 Memorial Park, Taipei Main Station, and back to the Legislative Yuan. At the end of the rally, demonstrators handed petitions to government officials outside the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan.

Similar to the previous Fridays for Future protests in Taipei, the demonstration was highly artistic. While Fridays for Future protests have not been a regular event in Taiwan, a protest in May involved performers dressed in spandex costumes, billed as alien conservationists who had come to visit Taipei from the cosmos in order to promote environmentalism.

During the climate strike today, a group of performers dressed in white and covered with white paint walked zombie-like through the streets of Taipei, sometimes crying and screaming, representing the future victims of environmental disasters. Some performers carried a large dinosaur puppet and a dragon puppet, resembling the dragon figure used in Chinese dragon dances, representing the “monsters” of environmental destruction. Representatives of the Extinction Rebellion movement were also present, consisting mostly of expats living in Taiwan.

"Today, the climate movement would become a local movement," one of the rally organizers said to the crowd in the rain. "Because the participants today are all young people and they have not been mobilized by anyone but themselves."

The organizers highlighted the protest as a youth-led event, as the Fridays for Future and Global Climate Strike have been youth-initiated and originally called for by Greta Thunberg. Thunberg was 15 when she first began environmental activism, calling attention to how young people have been deprived of their future by the environmental destruction caused by adults. Earlier this week, Thunberg delivered a passionate speech to world leaders at the United Nations, urging for climate action.

The climate strike organizers in Taipei pointed to the need for Taiwan to transition toward renewable energy and shift away from fossil fuels. They suggested Taiwan could set an example in “Asian values” by pushing renewable energy initiatives.

A healthy environment is a human right as in the right to clean air and water, the organizers said, and political parties in Taiwan have not done enough to defend this right. Speakers also brought up how environmental destruction is caused by ideologies centered around endless economic growth, with the belief that the planet offers a limitless supply of resources for economic exploitation.


Photo Credit: Brian Hioe / New Bloom

Annette Lu speaks to protesters at Taipei's climate strike on Friday, September 27, 2019

Presidential candidate Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was among one of the few politicians who made an appearance at the protest. When speaking to the protesters, Lu connected her past experience fighting for democracy to the current environmental movement. During her speech, however, the performers in white paint screamed and ran away into the rain.

It remains to be seen what will force Taiwanese politicians toward sound ecological policy. Growing issues regarding air pollution and the question of whether Taiwan should depend on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, or non-nuclear forms of renewable power are key issues in Taiwan's upcoming elections in January 2020.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article from New Bloom.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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