The election platforms of the candidates in Saturday’s elections need to be less focused on industrial development and instead address long-neglected environmental issues, environmental activists from the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said yesterday.
“After looking at the 46 election manifestos, we found only 31 election promises pertaining to environmental protection — this is low in comparison to those related to industrial development and the economy,” said Wang Chin-shou (王俊秀), president of the union.
Most of the “green” election promises pertain to the development of eco-tourism and environmental clean ups, rather than sustainable development and clean power sources, Wang said.
He said a lack of candidates running on purely environmental initiatives was disheartening, especially when seen against their recent popularity in the EU, Japan and the US.
“Our parties need to start fielding candidates that run on an environmental platform, as found in other developed nations,” Wang said. “Right now, because the candidates have to juggle priorities, they usually go with a pro-development platform.”
Statistics issued by the organization showed that 14 of the eco-friendly election promises came from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), 12 from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and five from independent candidates.
Officials from the organization said despite an increase in environmental awareness among the public, there was no significant increase in policies reflecting this during the election.
“The general public knows how important the environment is and they should show it when they vote on Saturday,” said Shih Shin-min (施信民), a professor at National Taiwan University. “People should vote for candidates who have a proven track record in the environmental protection movement.”
Shih said three candidates in this year’s elections were especially notable for their past record in environmental protection — Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻), the DPP incumbent running in Pingtung County; Liu Gin-show (劉俊秀), the DPP candidate in Hsinchu City; and DPP incumbent Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) in Yunlin County.
TEPU officials also called on voters to reject incumbent candidates that have supported projects that they allege have resulted in heavy pollution over the past few years, including the proposed science park in Erlin Township (二林), Changhua County.
The project, which passed its environmental assessment last month, has been criticized by local fishermen and farmers because they fear the pollution emitted by the proposed facilities would affect the quality of life in the area.
Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) has said the project is important for increasing living standards and for the high-tech industry’s development in the western corridor.
Wang said the Erlin project was another example of politicians continuing to favor industrial development over conservation.
“These policies are unsustainable, both for our environment and the next generation,” Wang said.
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