Nevertheless, global warming is becoming increasingly serious, and since every member of the global village is in this together, Taiwan will be affected at some point. If it continues to burn so many fossil fuels, even if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant goes into operation, the next decade will see its carbon emissions rise from the 75.3 million tonnes in 2009 to 194 million tonnes in 2019.
According to Kyoto, the cost of annual carbon emissions will exceed NT$10 billion, which will eventually be passed on to the consumer. No matter what Taipower does now, it is already too late.
The trend in industrialized nations’ energy policy has been for a green, sustainable and diversified model of operation and distribution.
Under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the Ministry of Education was given funds to install solar panels in schools, an initiative that unfortunately never really took off due to the lack of supporting measures.
Now, some are encouraging the government to install solar panels in all public buildings and, supported by bank loans, the cost of installation would be offset by the savings made on electricity bills. However, the government has yet to respond.
What other options does Taiwan have if it is to wean itself off thermal power electricity generation and avoid the potential dangers of nuclear power altogether? The situation is in flux, and if policymakers seek to close the nation off to what is happening outside, Taiwan will fall behind the times and leave the public to foot the bill.
Norman Yin is a professor of financial studies at National Chengchi University.
Translated by Paul Cooper