Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Environmental meeting calls for bold car policy

VEHICLE NUMBERS If the government takes a recent environmental report seriously, people could face an individual quota on car ownership and other limitations

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Taiwan Environmental Action Network and other environmental organizations are dressed up in animal and plant costumes at a demonstration to raise awareness about global warming in Taipei's Da-an Park yesterday. They called on Taipei residents to start riding bicycles and cut down on the use of cars.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Consensus Conference on Environmental Protection ended yesterday with a laundry list of bold initiatives to accomplish on short notice.

Discussion at this year's conference focused on whether the total number of the country's motor vehicles, including motorcycles and cars, should be regulated.

The final report advised limiting the number of motor vehicles and gradually reducing the total number of cars per person.

The so-called "consensus among the participants" suggested that within two years, the government should create a detailed list of standards for pollutants emitted from the motorcycles and cars.

It should also establish a timeline to establish when emissions goals should be met.

Meanwhile, motor vehicles that fail to pass the government standards, such as carbon dioxide emission and energy use, would be upgraded or taken off the road.

The government should also start levying taxes on energy, carbon and road usage, the consensus report said.

Buyers of motor vehicles may be asked to pay more in applying for car licenses or pay a premium on parking spaces.

Those who own more than one vehicle may be asked to pay an "environmental impact tax," a progressive tax rate that would be set specifically to regulate the number of motor vehicle owners.

The conference was held over four consecutive weekends. Participants included 17 people with different backgrounds from different parts of the country.

Individual representatives from the Taiwan Transportation Vehicle Manufacturers Association, as well as government officials from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the departments of transportation in both the Taipei City and Taipei County Governments participated in the conference

At yesterday's press conference, however, only four people in favor of tighter regulations were on stage to present the final report.

The presentation yesterday displayed only the consensus positions reached. The report gave no details regarding points on which the participants failed to agree.

When asked by the Taipei Times whether industry representatives would have difficulty implementing the suggestions, all four representatives avoided confronting the issue directly.

"We are only asking the government to regulate those vehicles that fail to pass the air pollution standards, not all vehicles," said Ke Shao-hua (柯邵華), a company lawyer.

Responding to the suggestions, EPA Deputy Minister Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) struck a rather cliche note.

"The conclusions were to be expected," Chang said, "We will take the suggestions on board and see what we can accomplish."

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