Wed, Jul 14, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Group slams Chen on ecology

NOT GREEN ENOUGH Judging from the society's report, most environmental policies are faulty -- and the president should be held responsible for the mess


In a report made public yesterday, the Taipei Society (澄社) criticized President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for not instituting sufficient environmental protection measures during his first term.

"The Chen administration should not have emphasized economics for its own sake but instead a long-term development plan for national resources that would protect the environment," the report said.

As Taiwan's "green" political party, the Democratic Progressive Party should push for eco-friendly "green economics" and a "green lifestyle," the society said. Conservation of energy, redistribution and diversification of water resources, recycling of waste, preservation of species, protection of land and water and support for environmentally friendly transportation were listed by the society as central concerns.

Among numerous criticisms, the Taipei Society suggested that the president should have followed through on holding a referendum on the abolition of nuclear energy during the debate over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, since he could not obtain a consensus in the Legislative Yuan.

Chen also did not effectively enough resolve clashes with Aborigines who lived in regions slated for nuclear waste disposal, the report said.

In addition, the group took Chen to task for continuing the construction of the Suao-Hualien freeway, which has long been opposed by environmental groups.

"It appeared that there was hope for the conservation of our national soil, but the advent of the freeway project destroyed everything," the report said.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun promised not to allocate an extra NT$49.9 billion (US$1.49 billion) for the Fourth Nuclear Plant on Monday after a closed-door meeting with environmental protection groups. However, the government has not taken any official action to terminate the project.

The government should respect environmental protection groups and pursue certain initiatives that enjoy "general consensus," the report said. An example, according to the society, is the creation of several government committees -- including a resource and recycling committee, a long-term sustainable development committee, a ministry of energy and a nuclear-energy control committee.

Furthermore, a truly "green" government under Chen would push for greater environmental protection to be written into the law and would levy an environmental tax or otherwise raise funds that would be earmarked for environmental projects, the report said.

Although the society applauded the government's advances in the recycling of organic waste, it cited broad failures to confront trash and incineration problems. The government should sponsor research for much-needed resource conservation technologies, the report said.

The report judged efforts to protect endangered species and sea resources insufficient.

"Taiwan has an incredibly heavy burden from the international community, and we cannot but work harder at [protecting our species and oceans]," the society's report said.

Excessive pollution in the river systems harms the deltas, the report said, and unregulated construction on the coasts disrupts the biodiversity of local waters. On land, the continued failure to create a wildlife reserve for the fairy pitta, a rare bird species, was cited by the society as a particular failure of the Chen administration. Several migratory bird species are stopping elsewhere on their yearly routes, the report said.

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