The plasticizer food scandal, nuclear energy and a petrochemical refinery headed the list of last year’s top 10 environmental news stories, a survey has shown.
The Taiwan Environmental Information Association (TEIA), which has established one of the largest Chinese-language environmental information Web sites, announced the results last week.
The top three domestic environmental issues were the plasticizer contaminated food scandal, the resurgence of the anti-nuclear movement and the halt of a naphtha cracker complex construction project by Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology in Changhua County.
Internationally, the nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the Kyoto Protocol negotiations at the UN’s Climate Change Conference in South Africa and the flood in Thailand gained the most votes from followers of its Wes site.
The association said 2,200 people cast a vote on its Web site last month and data showed that about 90 percent of voters had at least a bachelor’s degree.
The association said almost half of the most-voted-about issues were to do with farmland seizures and the threat of industrial development on the environment, while about 20 percent were focused on issues related to climate change and disasters.
“The top 10 news events were mostly negative stories. However, positive developments included the enforcement of the Environmental Education Act (環境教育法) and a discount policy for people who bring their own cups to beverage stores,” TEIA secretary-general Chen Juei-pin (陳瑞賓) said.
“This shows readers are more concerned about causes to do with unsustainable environmental practices and are still not satisfied with the environmentally friendly cases, which the government should pay attention to,” Chen said.
The Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) announced last week that 16 civic environmental groups had decided to choose the Chinese character 慟 for “grief” as the character that best symbolized last year’s environmental conditions.
TEPU secretary-general Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) said the character was chosen because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the floods in Thailand.
On the domestic front, he added, problems with farmland and issues to do with the disposal of toxic waste, “all demonstrated a counterattack by nature, causing pain to human beings, as a consequence of human beings’ disrespect to the environment.”
The association said it received poor responses from candidates for the Jan. 14 legislative elections after it sent out a survey asking them to reveal their stance on industrial policies, nuclear power issues, carbon emissions and other environmental issues. Only three responses from 75 Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates and 25 from 70 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates were received.
TEPU chairman Wang Chun-hsiu (王俊秀) said in the future there would be more “environmental -refugees” than political refugees. He added that Taiwan’s most serious environmental issue at the moment was nuclear power.
This is because in the north of the country, about 6 million people live within 30km of a nuclear power plant, 30 times more than the 200,000 people who live near Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, he said.
The association urged the government to stop building the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).