Minister highlights new climate challenges

DO IT DIFFERENTLY::The government should change the way it operates, while national land planning is needed to solve problems, the interior minister said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 2

Minister of the Interior Lee Hung-yuan (李鴻源) yesterday said the government needs to change the way it operates in terms of facing the challenge of global warming and improving the environment.

Lee outlined his key points during a speech at the first National Climate Change Summit in Taipei, where he stressed that infrastructural development is the most important solution, rather than governance and legislative action.

Addressing climate change and the impact it is having on the environment, Lee said the core issue should be on the general direction that is taken rather than getting caught up in the details.

Taiwan is a small nation with a relatively young geological environment, he said, and it is vulnerable to climate change. A balance should be found in developments which ensure relative safety, he said, adding that national land planning is the most effective solution.

The government has spent NT$400 billion (US$13.34 billion) on restoration projects since Typhoon Morakot in 2009, but roads are being rebuilt and destroyed repeatedly, Lee said, and the pattern is likely to continue if the concepts of governance and social values do not change.

Lee said problems should be considered on a grander scale, such as asking whether Greater Taipei’s environment can actually support a population of 8 million people, rather than focusing on house prices or asking how many science parks the nation needs. He also said that farmers need to be consulted.

“The problem lies within the operational method of the government ... because the authority to resolve issues often spans many different governmental agencies,” he said.

Lee said an example of ineffective environmental improvement planning was a project to tackle land subsidence in Chiayi County. Negotiations between agencies were not successful and some regulations contradicted each other.

“Integration, coherence and governance” was how the government should solve climate change challenges, Lee said.

The Ministry of the Interior is now working on revising regulations on urban planning and urban renewal, and hopefully a re-evaluated national land act would be passed during the next legislative session, he added.

There were several questions following his speech, including a representative from a private firm who suggested that the government should encourage creative input from the private sector to find solutions.

A representative from an environmental protection group urged the government to pass a national land act to prevent fast-growing developments that are rapidly destroying vulnerable coastal wetland areas.