NTU students protest Formosa group stake

BAD INTEREST::The university is investing public money in Formosa Petrochemical, China Steel and Asia Cement, all of which are among the 10 biggest polluters, the students said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Apr 21, 2018 - Page 3

The National Taiwan University (NTU) Student Association yesterday staged a parade against air pollution on the school’s main campus, urging the school administration to stop investing school funds in highly polluting businesses, such as subsidiaries of Formosa Plastics Group (FPG).

At noon yesterday, nearly 20 NTU students gathered at the end of Royal Palm Boulevard leading from the main gate to discuss air pollution before the march started at 12:30pm.

The event was planned to precede World Earth Day, which is tomorrow, student association president Lin Yan-ting (林彥廷) said.

While this year’s Earth Day theme is plastic pollution, air pollution emitted when manufacturing plastic products is also an important issue, association sustainability director Lin Meng-hui (林孟慧) said.

The association planned the protest after discovering that the school administration plans to invest about NT$170 million (US$5.7 million) in FPG’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp, China Steel Corp and Asia Cement Corp this year, she said.

The three firms were among the nation’s top 10 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases from 2013 to 2016, she said, citing data released by the NTU Risk Society and Policy Research Center.

As the school runs on public resources, its management should demonstrate social responsibility by withdrawing investment from polluting firms and clarify its investment principles, she said.

Carbon emissions by FPG subsidiaries make up about one-fifth of the nation’s total, yet group chairman William Wong (王文淵) has taken scant action to reduce pollution, center postdoctoral researcher Chao Chia-wei (趙家緯) said.

When Wong on Tuesday became chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, instead of reflecting on the group’s environmental record, he criticized the nation’s energy policy and the environmental impact assessment mechanism, Chao said.

In addition to NTU school funds, the government should also stop investing national labor funds in FPG, he said.

The student association also called on the government to scrap the planned construction of the new coal-fired Shenao Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳) by Taiwan Power Co, which is to install two generators of 600 megawatts each at the site and expects the first to become operational in 2025.

The project “makes us doubt whether the government is really determined to improve the nation’s air quality,” Lin Meng-hui said, adding that more activities on air pollution would be held later this year.