Environmental groups yesterday expressed hope for rapid improvement in Taiwan’s environmental record during a belated Earth Day meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
During the meeting, the groups urged the president to speed up the drawing of a timeline for carbon reduction while increasing energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy.
However, after the meeting the groups said they were disappointed with Ma’s lack of promises and determination to resolve the climate problem.
Ma had originally agreed to meet the groups last Wednesday on Earth Day, but the meeting was delayed because of a presidential schedule conflict, Green Party Taiwan (GPT) secretary-general Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said.
“We prepared three treasures as presents for President Ma last week — a ‘North Pole shaved ice,’ a ‘Formosan flower’ and a ‘Blue Ocean fish.’ But after seven days the ice has melted, the flower wilted and the fish is already rotten,” Pan said.
“We urge the president to speed up the battle against environmental problems so that Taiwan’s environment doesn’t also rot as a result of government delays. These issues cannot wait,” he said.
At a press conference held after the meeting, the groups voiced their disappointment.
“Ma did not directly respond to our suggestion to convert 4 percent of the nation’s energy supplies into renewable sources by 2012, and 18 percent by 2020,” Society of Wilderness (SOW) president Eddy Lin (林耀國) said.
In addition, Environmental Protection Minister Steven Shen (沈世宏), who joined the groups in the meeting, said that “flexibility is needed” in drawing a timeline for greenhouse gas emission reduction, Lin said.
“This means that there will be no specific reductions set,” Lin said.
Taiwan Natural Trail Society secretary-general Chang Yu-chuan (張尤娟) said that during his election campaign, Ma had proposed lowering the nation’s emissions levels to last year’s levels between 2016 to 2020, and to 2000 levels by 2025.
However, “the recent National Energy Conference failed to establish a clear timeline for carbon reduction because of opposition from industrial representatives; Ma has clearly broken his campaign promise,” Lin said.
The groups also felt that the Ma administration had a predetermined agenda regarding the development of nuclear power, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance director Kang Shi-hao (康世昊) said.
“The recent National Energy Conference was essentially a reinvention meeting for the development of nuclear energy, in spite of all the opposing voices,” Kang said.
“In sum, the nation’s environmental policy is terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible,” Pan said.