Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists urge government to cut emissions

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

With today marking the first anniversary of the enactment of the Kyoto protocol, an international treaty aiming to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, local environmentalists yesterday urged the government to halt petrochemical and steel production projects in the Yunlin Offshore Industrial Park.

At a press conference held by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) in Taipei, environmentalists said that, even though Taiwan is under no obligation to comply with the pact, curbing greenhouse gas emissions remains the responsibility of all the nations of the world.

"We regret to see that development projects have been proposed that would increase the emission of greenhouse gases considerably," TEPU chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.

Chen said that poorly formulated economic policies intended to encourage investment in petrochemical and steel production projects in the Yunlin Offshore Industrial Park would eventually lead to environmental catastrophe in Taiwan.

According to government statistics, the two projects will produce 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This figure represents nearly 10 percent of the nation's total carbon dioxide emissions in 2000.

"So far, we have not seen any evidence of the government setting clear goals for greenhouse gas reduction," Chen said.

The Kyoto protocol was enacted on Feb. 16 last year. A total of 160 parties to the protocol have now ratified the treaty. Under the protocol, 34 advanced industrial countries are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 5 percent below 1990 levels sometime between 2008 and 2012.

Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), an atmospheric sciences professor at National Taiwan University, said Taiwan has to tackle problems relating to low energy efficiency.

"Taiwan's energy efficiency is less than half that of Japan," she said.

Hsu said that insufficient information about the energy efficiency of products on the market had led consumers to pay attention to price alone.

"If consumers were made aware of the relationship between energy efficiency and utility bills, I think they might become more reluctant to purchase cheap products," Hsu said.

Lin Tze-luen (林子倫), founder of the Taiwan Environmental Action Network and an assistant professor at the Department of Public Policy and Management at Shih Hsin University, told the Taipei Times that Taiwan must keep itself abreast of international environmental trends.

"Curbing greenhouse gas emissions is not only an issue of policy change. It's actually about making significant adjustments to social and economic structures," Lin said.

Judging from revisions to the US Energy Policy Act last August, Lin argued that even the US, despite its refusal to ratify the Kyoto protocol, is aware of the importance of energy conservation, the adoption of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

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