A prominent activist said yesterday the momentum of the environmental movement in Taiwan has reached a new high.
“We have finally arrived at the watershed moment where the fairy tale of nuclear safety is being seriously challenged,” Green Party Taiwan spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said.
The 41-year-old has participated in hundreds of peaceful demonstrations throughout his career, calling on grassroot movements to tackle issues ranging from blocking local petrochemical development to promoting wetlands conservation.
For the past five years, Pan has served as a leading figure of the nation’s only internationally affiliated political party, representing the Green Party Taiwan three times in legislative and city council races. The party has 300 registered members and often advocates for social causes.
The party has not been able to gain a foothold in any government body because it usually gets drowned out by heavy campaigning from the major political parties. However, its positions are considered an alternative viewpoint on public issues.
At a demonstration in front of the Executive Yuan on Thursday, Pan urged the government to focus on creating more renewable energy generation instead of relying on nuclear power, pointing out that the scope of the crisis in Japan offered Taiwanese an opportunity to rethink the consequences of Taiwan’s reliance on nuclear power.
Pan also thinks the government needs to take a more practical approach to its energy policy. He said industrial power consumption in Taiwan accounts for 80 percent of total electricity usage. The nation should reduce the scale of four of its most energy-intensive industries: paper-making, cement, steel and petrochemicals, Pan said.
“Taiwan needs a fundamental change in its industrial structure by shifting away from traditional labor-intensive economy toward one that pursues quality and skill,” he said.
The Bureau of Energy said the nation consumed 27.4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity last year, with nuclear power providing 16 percent of that number.
“I don’t see why we cannot reduce that proportion of [nuclear] supply by providing better incentives and management,” he said.
An efficient way to cut back industrial demand for electricity, Pan said, would be to expose industries to the real cost of electricity by using market incentives.
“Simply put, electricity in Taiwan is too cheap,” he said.
Pan said the government should limit the industrial use of power by levying a tax on electricity.
Data from the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) from last year showed the average price of electricity for industry was NT$2.35 per kWh, which was the fifth-lowest among 30 members and observers of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
As for electricity management, Pan said that in order to reduce waste, Taipower must practice better load balancing — the practice of storing excess electrical power during periods of low demand that are released when demand rises.
By using modern electrical network technology, such as a smart grid which uses digital technology to manage the transport of electricity from its source to its users as demand fluctuates, Taiwan could raise the efficiency of its power usage by 4 percent and reduce power consumption to less than last year’s level by 2025.
Pan also asked the public to think critically about the issue of nuclear power and not just fall squarely on pro or anti-nuclear sides. He said that political parties would often push stereotypical positions for their own political interests.
However, he does think the younger generation has the advantage of being better informed and carrying less of a political burden than their parents’ generation.
“In the past, many incorrect decisions were made because people had limited knowledge of Mother Earth, as well as of the way politics works,” he said. “Seeing what has happened in Japan, it’s certainly time for people to rise up and make a change.”
See EDITORIAL on page 8
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
THE CHINA CONNECTION: As Beijing’s aggression increases, so does Taiwanese consciousness, making a new constitution imperative, Hsu Wei-chun said If the nation is to ratify a new constitution, it must first end any illusions about the current document’s relevance to Taiwan, an academic told a forum in Taipei yesterday. For the constitutional revisionist movement to succeed, it needs public enthusiasm, the right timing and a clear plan of action, Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) told attendees at the event titled “Imagining a New Constitution for a New Era,” which was organized by the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association. The Constitution exists under the “one China” framework and has little relevance to Taiwan, Hsu said, adding that