Mon, Nov 29, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Eco-conscious candidates getting their message out

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Eugene Jao speaks at a press conference about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant at the Legislative Yuan in in this Sept. 19, 2003 file photo. He was demanding the related government bodies explain the procurement contract and propose an effective policy in response to the massive expenditure.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Although Taiwanese people have suffered from environmental catastrophes caused by reckless development policies for years, raising controversial environmental issues during the legislative campaigning remains, ironically, a taboo for candidates, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

Some candidates who are concerned about the environment, however, have integrated environmental issues into other campaign topics -- such as water resource management -- in order to win voter support.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Eugene Jao (趙永清), who ran in the last legislative election as an independent candidate, is a vocal opponent of nuclear energy. He too has placed his concern for the environment in other issues, such as environmental education.

"To be honest, it's difficult to express in campaign materials things I have been involved in with regard to environmental issues. But at least I can highlight essential environmental problems facing the country during the campaign," Jao told the Taipei Times.

In his campaign headquarters and elsewhere workshops were established to teach children the concept of ecological conservation.

"I'm not sure if this will attract the children's parents to vote for me. But I do so because of my conscience," Jao said.

In 2000, Jao's vow to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, located in Gongliao Township, led to his expulsion from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is in favor of nuclear power generation. Running as an independent in 2002, Jao later joined DPP and promoted renewable energy as alternatives nuclear power.

Three years, Jao was one of a host of legislators who called for laws regulating not only the energy industry, but also energy supply.

In addition to energy issues, Jao has criticized "inappropriate" construction projects, such as the Suao-Hualien Freeway project, and urged the Executive Yuan to review environmental disasters from an ecological perspective.

He also criticized the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) for not keeping abreast with the spirit of international agreements ensuring sustainable development. In May, as most of the rest of the world began to implement the Stockholm Convention -- a global treaty designed to protect the environment from persistent organic pollutants -- Jao criticized the EPA for failing to control these pollutants adequately. the pollutants targeted by the treaty include some of the world's most dangerous chemicals, such as chlordane, PCBs and industrial by-products such as furans and dioxins.

As the Kyoto Protocol is set to go into force early next year, Jao and other legislators called for laws regulating emissions of greenhouse gases, even though this country is not bound by the accord.

Yang Jiao-yen (楊嬌豔), a legislative assistant to Jao, told the Taipei Times that Jao's idea is to link Taiwan with important international environmental agreements. He insists that Taiwan, a member of "global village," should not be absent from international trends stressing sustainable development.

"But society has not matured enough. We can't just talk tough about environmental issues only in the legislative campaign. That's why we also focus on local issues such as daycare centers and kindergarten education," Yang said.

The strategy adopted by KMT Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄), who has also worked on controversial environmental issues in the last three years are similar.

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