Trams in the Polish city of Katowice have been decorated with the slogan “Taiwan Can Help” as part of the Taiwanese government’s drive to join the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The move came as representatives from 195 countries gathered in Poland for the start of the UN’s climate change conference, COP24, on Sunday. Attending parties are set to discuss details of the Paris climate accord, which aims to keep the increase in global average temperature to below two degrees Celcius, and to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celcius. Taiwan was not invited.

Taiwan tram Katowice
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty between member states to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are trying to emphasise Taiwan as a key member of the international community in combatting climate change,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Andrew Lee, told HKFP.

Lee said that the campaign is based on one created in New York last month during the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in which subway trains were coated in vibrant colours with the name “Taiwan.”

Taiwan – officially known as the Republic of China – was a member of the UN until 1971, after the General Assembly voted to recognise Beijing as China’s ruling government. Its most recent request for admission was denied in 2007, but a coalition led by the United States subsequently forced the global body and its secretary-general to stop using the phrase “Taiwan is a part of China.”

Taiwan tram Katowice
Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan.

Four of Taiwan’s 17 diplomatic allies – Swaziland, Kiribati, Nauru and Palau – expressed support for the island’s appeal for membership into the UN in last October’s General Assembly.

Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, said in a tweet on Wednesday that the trams show the country’s determination to participate in UN affairs, adding in a separate Facebook post that Taiwan wants to become a global partner in facing the issue of climate change.

Taiwan’s MOFA lodged a complaint with the UN in October for refusing a Taiwanese reporter entry into UN headquarters.

Taiwanese citizens are not allowed to enter UN buildings, though, in previous years, the UN told Taiwanese citizens that they could enter using their national identity cards.

Taiwan is a democracy of 23 million people and has been ruled by the Republic of China government since 1945, when Japan ceded control over the territory. Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with countries that recognise it.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.