Environmental and human rights groups yesterday urged lawmakers to think of the climate crisis when they start reviewing bills during the new legislative session, which commences today.
The groups, which are to hold a parade on Sunday next week to draw public attention to the issue of climate change, called on lawmakers to exert more effort into drafting legislation to combat its effects.
Several climate-related bills that are to be reviewed this session include the budget proposal for the third-phase Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, a second special budget for COVID-19 prevention and economic relief, as well as amendments to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (溫室氣體減量及管理法) and the Commodity Tax Act (貨物稅條例), Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan researcher Yang Shu-jung (楊書容) said.
Lawmakers should consider how to mitigate the effects of climate change after failing to do so previously, she said.
For example, the government had set a budget for railway underground projects, but did not promote the construction of bikeways to curb carbon emissions, she said, adding that the underground projects led to land appropriation problems without boosting transportation capacity.
While the government has pushed for the installation of solar energy panels, it did not assess in advance if the sites would overlap with agricultural land or Aboriginal domains, thus resulting in many conflicts now, she said.
The Cabinet’s stimulus package only offers subsidies to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic without launching incentives for green transformations, Yang added.
While the government in 2015 promulgated the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act, the nation’s carbon emissions in 2018 grew by 3 percent from 2005 levels, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance researcher Wei Yang (魏揚) said.
Different entities — especially the manufacturing, energy, and residential and commercial sectors — did not work aggressively to meet their respective goals, he added.
As the nation is to propose a second-phase greenhouse gas management goal for next year to 2025, the government should include as an objective achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 into law and amend corresponding goals, he said.
It should also set up a carbon pricing mechanism to reflect the external costs of greenhouse gas emissions, Wei added.
The Environmental Protection Administration’s previous proposal of charging businesses NT$100 for every tonne of carbon emissions is insufficient to push them to cut pollution, he said.
The parade is aimed at urging the government to treat climate change as a national security crisis and propose “green” political programs to promote sustainable development of local industries, the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition said.
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