Fri, Jun 06, 2008 - Page 4 News List

President announces energy-saving program

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday announced an energy-saving program to mark World Environment Day, hoping to set an example for the public and help advance President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“I know it is not easy, but we can try to accomplish it step by step,” Ma said. “About 98 percent of the country’s energy is imported. We can help make the country a better place if every individual makes a little contribution.”

Ma has pledged to keep carbon dioxide emissions to this year’s levels by 2020, to cut them to 2000’s levels by 2025 and then to half of 2000’s levels by 2050.

Although Taiwan is not a member of the UN, nor a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Ma said the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions had reached a “horrifying” level. Taiwan had to take the matter seriously, he said, because the country could not afford economic sanctions if it were to become a UN member in the future and ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

In the meantime, Ma said he has proposed various measures to lower carbon dioxide emissions. One of them is to plant 60,000 hectares of forest in Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan counties. These forests would be used to conserve water, create theme parks and help reduce carbon emissions, he said. Industries emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases could help build the forest or adopt patches of it to offset the damage they do to the environment.

Pulling out a pair of recyclable chopsticks, a spoon and a fork from his pocket, Ma yesterday encouraged staffers at the Presidential Office to follow the 10 energy-saving guidelines set by his office.

“The nation’s leader and its government must set an example to the public,” he said.

Except for important occasions, male staffers have been advised to ditch their suits and ties. All staffers have been encouraged to use less air conditioning and open the windows, turn off the lights after work, use public transport or ride a bicycle to work, take the stairs rather than using the elevator, eat locally produced food and more vegetables, reject products with excessive packaging, use recycled products and to recycle resources and to use recyclable chopsticks, cups, bowls, shopping bags and handkerchiefs.

Meanwhile, as the Dragon Boat Festival approaches, the Presidential Office urged staffers to refrain from giving or accepting gifts and not to attend free lunches and dinners.

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