Mon, Feb 09, 2015 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Stone Age climate policy

Has there ever been a more useless environmental minister than Environmental Protection Administration Minister Wei Kuo-yen (魏國彥)?

While supporters for climate change action now include Britain’s Prince Charles, the cool new pope and even British entrepreneur Richard Branson — the head of a group of prominent businesspeople urging the world’s governments to set a clear target for making the global economy free of carbon emissions by mid-century — Wei claims that “the grand plan of global carbon reduction now seems to be a lost cause, with global warming the only possible outcome” simply because oil prices have dropped and therefore demand has increased (“Oil price effect on carbon concern,” Jan. 18, page 8).

Such a statement takes hands-off, laissez-faire, neo-liberal defeatism to new heights, or — rather — lows. Climate change mitigation, or, in other words, changing to a zero-carbon economy, is not a matter of the economy or oil prices, but of political will.

When ozone-layer busting chlorofluorocarbons threatened a planetary catastrophe in the 1980s, it was not price signals in the market, but a global treaty outlawing these chemicals combined with new technologies and substitute chemicals which avoided the impending disaster.

Climate expert Dana Nuccitelli recently said: “The reason that the worst possible consequences from acid rain, ozone depletion, pesticide pollution, and so forth weren’t realized is that we took action to mitigate those threats. Specifically, we put a price on the pollutants that caused acid rain and ozone depletion, and regulated pesticide use. Those are precisely the solutions proposed to mitigate global warming” (http://tinyurl.com/ljvkprn).

In each case, scientific evidence led to political leadership, something sorely missing from the Chinese National Party’s (KMT) abysmal environmental track record (“No more excuses, Ma,” Sep. 21, 2014, page 8). So next time you run into Wei, pick up a rock and remind him that the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of rocks, but because new technologies were invented (“Renewables way forward,” Jul. 06, 2014, page 8).

Since “Taiwan is blessed with an abundance of renewable sources,” according to Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) (“Energy talks unproductive,” Jan. 28, page 1), why do we not use new energy technologies together with environmentally enlightened policies to avoid planetary meltdown?

Flora Faun

Taipei

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