Environmental groups joined forces and braved the rain in Taipei yesterday to march against air pollution and call for measures against it.
The march was co-organized by more than a dozen groups, including Air Clean Taiwan (ACT), South Taiwan Air Clear, the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions, the Alliance for the Rescue of Datan Algae Reefs, the Taiwan Academy of Ecology and the Taiwan Tree Protection Coalition.
Several political parties were also represented at the march, including the New Power Party, the New Party and the Taiwan People’s Party.
At about noon, demonstrators gathered outside the Environmental Protection Administration building, where the vice presidential candidates of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spoke to them before the march began.
The DPP’s candidate, former premier William Lai (賴清德), said that during his premiership from September 2017 to January the Executive Yuan’s National Council for Sustainable Development released the nation’s first Voluntary National Review.
He mentioned a number of proposals, including closer collaboration between the council and private groups and businesses; a reassessment of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法); and the development of a timetable for carbon neutrality in Taiwan, for the future.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
However, some demonstrators demanded “promises” instead of “empty words” as Lai left the scene.
Shortly after Lai’s departure, the KMT’s vice presidential candidate, former premier Simon Chang (張善政), who served during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term, spoke to the crowd.
Chang claimed that former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) quoted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as saying that “solving [the problem of] air pollution is the next generation’s business.”
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Chang said “we 1,000 percent disagree.”
Chang said his campaign’s energy policy is to “carry out the results of last year’s two referendums.”
“One is to reduce coal-fired power generation each year, and the second is to ‘use nuclear to support green,’” he said. “We also support green energy, but we do not support an impetuous [shift to] green energy.”
However, Chang’s mention of “using nuclear to support green” appeared to upset some demonstrators, who interrupted him by saying they wanted a “nuclear-free homeland.”
After a series of scheduled speeches by group representatives, the demonstrators at about 1:30pm began their march toward Liberty Square, arriving at about 3pm.
They shouted slogans such as “The greater south wants health," “Breathing needs equal rights,” and “Coal-free Taiwan, sustainable health” as they marched.
They also held signs that read, “Nuclear-free, coal-free homeland,” and “Legalized harm, state violence,” among other messages.
For the march, ACT listed four major demands, including the hosting of a “climate conference” and the abolition of the “centralization of energy.”
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