A report titled “Lung adenocarcinoma promotion by air pollutants” that was published on April 5 in the scientific journal Nature showed that Taiwan unfortunately leads other industrial countries in the northern hemisphere in terms of lung adenocarcinoma mortality rate.
China is responsible for one-third of the air pollution in Taiwan, while one-third is from industrial output and the rest from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
Most people are not aware of the hazards that traffic-related air pollution poses to their health. Compared with fixed pollution sources such as chimneys, vehicle exhausts are at ground level, meaning that people are more exposed to their emissions.
There are few factories in Taipei, so its biggest source of pollution is vehicle exhausts. There are about 1 million motorcycles in the capital. If it is assumed that every vehicle produces 22.9g of carbon dioxide per kilometer traveled and a vehicle travels 10km per day on average, then 229 tonnes of carbon dioxide is emitted from exhausts every day, or 83,585 tonnes per year.
Add the air pollution produced in New Taipei City and the carbon emissions total a staggering 250,000 tonnes a year.
There are not many other cities around the world that have the high density of vehicles that Taipei does, which — aside from the traffic jams — means a remarkable amount of carbon dioxide and other emissions.
A 2014 report showed that a record-breaking, green city of the future is rising in the Gulf desert in the United Arab Emirates. Covering about 6km2, Masdar City is a planned project that offers a well-designed public transportation system and is being developed with the vision of transforming Abu Dhabi into “the pre-eminent source of renewable energy, knowledge, development, implementation and the world’s benchmark for sustainable development.”
With the aspiration of becoming a sustainable urban living model with no carbon emissions or waste, Masdar City has banned private vehicles to keep pollution to a minimum.
Taipei has a multiple-line metro system, a network of buses and numerous YouBike rental stations that allow people to reach every corner of the city.
However, a close look at the development of city transportation shows that many people still rely on private vehicles.
To cut down on carbon emissions, cities must establish accessible public transportation systems, but to effectively reduce pollution, people must forgo private vehicles.
It is high time that the government exercised its leadership and discretion to push for a carbon-free city as soon as possible.
Dino Wei is an information engineer.
Translated by Rita Wang
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