Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Time for action on CO2 emissions

By Pan Han-shen 潘翰聲

Environmental Protection Administration officials and environment ministers from seven Central American countries met at this year's Environment Ministerial Meeting, which ended on Oct. 19. In the future, Taiwan's public and private sectors will become actively involved in various business opportunities aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the clean development mechanism carried out by the UN Environment Program Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

At first glance, Taiwan seems to be a role model for environmental protection. Although for political reasons the nation is unable to become a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the Taiwanese still pursue their obligations as world citizens. However, from 1990 to 2004, Taiwan's carbon dioxide (CO2) emission rate doubled, giving it the worst record of all nations in terms of CO2 emission growth rate.

Currently, Taiwan is the world's 23rd-largest CO2 emitter, which means that it is not pushing itself to improve. Going as far as participating in the recent Environment Ministerial Meeting with Latin American allies only shows the nation's unrealistic approach in handling environmental issues.

Also, utilizing public resources to invest in Central America further reveals Taiwan's hypocritical use of environmental protection as an excuse to engage in dollar diplomacy.

On the issue of CO2 emissions, there is still a lot of basic work to do right here. Therefore, it is unrealistic to negotiate politically motivated deals for carbon dioxide emissions trading with other countries or to help less developed nations emit less CO2 in order to decrease overall emissions.

Today, the overall results of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been unsuccessful and industrial and business groups have insisted on obstructing the implementation of a target year for cutting CO2 emissions.

This is like a person preparing to go on a diet without measuring his or her weight first or setting a weight-loss goal but then going to help a friend lose weight. Such reasoning is clearly absurd.

Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) plan for major investments is aimed at promoting the construction of a Chinese Petroleum Corp plant in Pingtung County and a big Formosa Plastics Corp steel processing plant in Yunlin County. However, the two construction projects happen to be from the two industries with the fastest CO2 emission growth in Taiwan in recent years.

On top of that, Chinese Steel has planned to build a steel mill in the proposed Pinnan Industrial Complex (濱南工業區), which is already hotly debated because of its environmental impact.

Once these projects are completed, the nation's southwest coast will have become completely artificial and the greenhouse gas emissions rate will have increased by 20 percent to 40 percent.

Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at the opening ceremony of this year's Environment Ministerial Meeting that, "Reducing greenhouse gases has to be done today, otherwise we will regret it tomorrow."

But Tsai did not mention a word about government projects to develop major CO2 emitting industries, deliberately hiding this truth from Taiwan's diplomatic allies.

The new documentary An Inconvenient Truth starring former US vice president Al Gore tells about the dangers of climate change. The most shocking scenes are of the rapidly melting ice in the Antarctic, Arctic and Greenland's glaciers. In addition, the US Department of Defense published a long-concealed confidential document saying that the ice thickness of the Arctic Sea has shrunk by a half.

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