Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Protestors strip down to help protect environment

SYMBOLIC GESTURE Six students pulled the stunt in front of the Executive Yuan to call attention to Taiwan's inaction on the Kyoto Pact and reducing emissions

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Six college students, all members of environmental groups, stage a nude protest outside the Executive Yuan yesterday to protest the government's ignorance of the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.

PHOTO:GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

With the Kyoto Protocol due to take effect today, a coalition of environmental groups staged a nude demonstration outside the Executive Yuan yesterday to protest against what they called the government's ignorance of the pact.

Chanting "protect the earth, save the climate," six male university and graduate students shocked the media by taking off their underwear, leaving their private parts covered only by a piece of paper and their buttocks, by a long strip of paper.

On their backs were painted characters in black ink, reading "opposing No. 8 Naphtha Cracker and steel mill."

Before putting on the show, the coalition engaged in verbal bickering with security guards, who said they were violating the Assembly and Parade Law (集會遊行法) and that they might risk offending public decency.

One protester, a sophomore from a college in Yunlin who wished to be identified only as "student Wu," said that although it was the first time he took his clothes off in public, he did not regret doing it.

"It's worthwhile if we get a positive response from the government," he said. "Besides, it's too late to regret it now."

Chang Tzu-chien (張子見), acting director of the Yunlin chapter of the Wild Bird Society and the coalition's spokesman, said that they used their bare bodies to mock the government's empty promises and to expose the government's lies as akin to those in the story about the emperor's new clothes.

"It's such audacity for the government to walk about nude and tell us that it's wearing beautiful clothes," he said.

Chang was referring to former premier Yu Shyi-kun's last-minute approval of two construction projects before he stepped down as premier at the beginning of this month, when he was also talking about sustainable development.

The two construction projects are the steel refinery of the Formosa Plastics Corp in Yunlin County and Chinese Petroleum Corp's No. 8 Naphtha Cracker in Pingtung County.

According to Chang, the two facilities combined are expected to increase the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 51 million tonnes, or about 25 percent more than the 2000 figure.

Taiwan ranks 22nd globally in greenhouse gas emissions, releasing over 2.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air each year, or about 1 percent of the global total.

The figure represents a 97 percent increase from 1990.

Chang said that they were enraged by the government's turning a deaf ear to environmental groups' calls and lying to them with beautiful and empty slogans.

"If the government continues to ignore sustainable development, we'll not only lose our global rating but also our competitiveness," he said.

Although Taiwan is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Chang said that he expected to see the country play a more proactive role in the international community, instead of becoming an "environmental rascal."

In addition to calling on the government to respond to the pact, the coalition appealed for legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a halt to the construction of reservoirs on offshore islands and a reexamination of the two construction projects, the No. 8 Naphtha Cracker and steel refinery.

The group also asked the government to fulfill its promise of achieving a nuclear-free homeland.

The chairman of the Cabinet's Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Yeh Chun-jung (葉俊榮), who is the executive officer of the Cabinet's task force set up to respond to the Kyoto Protocol, said that he agreed to enact a law to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and emphasize the importance of renewable energy.

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