Sun, Oct 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Vice president says coal phase-out by 2050 realistic

STEP BY STEP:Taiwan cannot do without coal in the short term, but it could learn from Germany, which generates about 45% of its power from coal, Chen Chien-jen said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The nation is likely to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) told an environmental forum in Taipei yesterday, adding that the coal-fired facilities should be refined to reduce air pollution before then.

The forum was held at National Taiwan University by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the union’s establishment.

Phasing out coal-fired power plants has become the international community’s consensus and many countries, such as France and Finland, have announced their intentions to stop using coal-fired power, Chen said in his opening remarks at the forum.

France plans to shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2023, while Finland is to ban the use of coal in energy production by 2030.

Unlike those two countries, which have other forms of energy, such as hydraulic and nuclear power, Taiwan could hardly do without coal-fired power in the short term, he said.

Nonetheless, Taiwan can learn from Germany, which also generates about 45 percent of its electricity from coal, and stop using coal-fired power by 2050, he said.

One of the union’s landmark achievements is preventing the commissioning of the Fourth Nuclear Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) in 2015, union member Tung Chien-hung (董建宏) said.

For the union’s members, the next objective is to realize the goal of a “nuclear-free homeland by 2025,” but they have to know that building more power plants is not the best way to do that, Tung said.

By contrast, former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) suggested that people join forces to build more renewable energy utilities and change the nation’s centralized electricity industry.

Union members should also embrace technology to make environmental reforms more efficient while transforming themselves from street protesters to a vanguard of the “knowledge economy,” Su said.

Before 2000, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was for decades the ruling party, environmental activists could draw media attention and formulate issues simply by pointing their fingers at KMT officials, former Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan chairman Chu Tseng-hung (朱增宏) said.

However, after three handovers of political power, activists should come up with a different strategy and discourse to promote reforms, especially in the “post-truth” era, when reality and truth are bendable, he said.

Although the Democratic Progressive Party administration is often willing to discuss environmental issues with non-governmental activists, what solutions can be expected is another question, Chu said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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