The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) launched a series of activities yesterday to mark World Environment Day next Thursday by unveiling its two newest anti-global warming "campaigners" — a polar bear and a Formosan black bear — and called on the public to start living low carbon lifestyles.
“In the past 20 years, the polar ice sheets have dropped by a rate of 100,000 square kilometers per year because of global warming due to industrialization,” said Hsiao Hui-chuan (蕭慧娟), director-general of the EPA’s Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Division.
Because ice sheets are now further apart, polar bears need to swim longer distances to gather food, making their survival doubly difficult, she said.
Likewise, Taiwan’s degenerating and increasingly warm environment has made it harder for wild animals, such as the Formosan black bear, to stay alive, Hsiao said.
“When you think about it, [global warming] is not just a problem for the North Pole or Taiwan — it is a problem that affects all of us on Earth,” she said.
With this in mind, the EPA is sponsoring a series of activities from now until World Environment Day next Thursday, including a photo exhibition at the Taipei MRT Zhongshan station.
“We have also set up a Web site for people to learn about 10 ways to reduce carbon emissions and vow to follow these guidelines,” Hsiao said.
So far, the EPA has received 97,697 signatures from people who have made promises ranging from using mass transportation instead of driving and eating vegetarian meals and locally produced food, she said.
'No regret' policy
At a separate press conference yesterday, EPA Minister Steven Shen (沈世宏), responding to media questions on how he planned to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions, said that individuals should follow a “no regret” policy to help combat global warming, which affects people worldwide.
“There are a lot of areas in our everyday lives where we can save electricity, such as switching off lights when you leave a room,” Shen said.
As carbon reduction is something that everyone needs to do, instead of offering incentives to individuals: “We need to promote a ‘no-regret’ mentality from the top down. Environmental protection is an increasingly common social value, and going green is something one would not regret doing,” he said.
Shen said a two-stage plan would be offered to industrial and business energy users, with subsidies provided for the purchase of energy-efficient equipment in the first stage and restrictions on carbon emission amounts in the second.
“Though these restrictions would depend on the passage of a carbon emission reduction law in the legislature, there is a consensus that this law would be passed — the legislature is now only mulling over the details of the law before passing it,” he said.