Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Questions of water conservation

Today's Taipei Times features an editorial titled Questions of water conservation by Chang Yen-ming, deputy director of the Water Resources Agency. The article has a dig at the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee (EIAC) because they "ordered that the construction of the Hushan Water Reservoir be halted because they didn't accept the environmental research reports" but the editorial fails to mention that this order has been ignored and it also fails to go into the reasons as to why EIAC didn't accept the environmental research reports. Sadly, it seems as if this editorial is just another unjustified jibe at environmentalists pushing for more responsible usage of Taiwan's water resources.

Update 2007-8-16

The following letter is a draft of a letter that some Taiwanese students have sent to various newspapers and websites. We are not aware of the letter having been published but it may well have. The views expressed in the letter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NTCAHD and this blog. The figures contained in this letter reflect the shocking reality of the present CO2 emissions situation in Taiwan and why we don't need to increase heavy emission generating industry in Taiwan. The responsible thing to do is to reduce these present emission levels, not increase them. How responsible is the building of a dam that's function is to supply water to more industry that will increase Taiwan's CO2 emissions dramatically and destroy much of what little remains of western lowland natural Taiwan?

Open Letter on Global Warming to Taiwan’s Pacific Allies

To the Government and People of the Republic of Kiribati; Republic of the Marshall Islands; Republic of Nauru; Republic of Palau; Solomon Islands; and Tuvalu.

Dear Friends,

We sincerely thank your representatives for their visit to Taiwan. We believe that their visit on July 27th shows your concern and interest in Taiwan's progress in the struggle against global warming. We believe that Taiwan, as a member of the global community, is obliged to carry out and advise its close friends to adopt environmentally sound policies. Although the Minister of Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Dr. Winston Dang, has shared with you his department’s successful experience in waste management, and may appear to have solved your technical problems; you must understand that Taiwan's environment has always been sacrificed for development and priority has been given to highly contaminating heavy industry. This does not, of course, correspond with the EPA minister's claims that Taiwan is a victim of global warming. Although the international consensus discourages the proliferation of contaminating heavy industries, Taiwan is under no constraint from the UN because it is not a member, nor is it regulated by the Kyoto Protocol. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has invested in industries with high energy and water consumption, violating international agreements.

As of now, Taiwan ranks number three in CO2 emission per capita in the world, only behind the United States and Australia. Its 11.9 tons/per capita emission far exceed the 3.9 world average. According to the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, there has been an 8% annual growth rate in Taiwan's CO2 emission in the past ten years (1995-2005), while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) only increased by 4%. This violates the Kyoto Protocol's regulation on CO2 emissions. Taiwan's CO2 emissions seem unlikely to decrease in the future. The fact remains that its CO2 emissions have been increasing significantly. Liu Shao Chen of the Research Center for Environmental Changes (RCEC), Academia Sinica, points out that Taiwan's CO2 emission rate is the fastest growing CO2 emission rate in the world, and that the emission rate has increased by 110% in the past 15 years. This is primarily the reason for our disbelief of the Taiwan government’s commitment to combating global warming. Also consider the proposed massive industrial developments that will raise the total emission rate by 40%, making Taiwan the single highest CO2 emission per capita country in the world. It is Taiwan's responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of its friends. However, the Taiwan government's aggressive development of its industry and energy resources places the economic development of particular sectors far above the environmental security of its people and of the peoples of the world.

It is known that if the greenhouse effect causes the sea level to rise, island countries will be the first to suffer. The ocean that millions depend on for a living is now becoming a threat to their homelands. If the Taiwan government continues to disregard your right to a healthy and clean environment, we strongly suggest that you take the necessary protective action. We believe that the maintaining of the conditions of basic living should be the fundamental consideration of any government. Money cannot restore the island's beauty once it is gone. Therefore, we demand that the Taiwanese government provide CO2 pollution reparations for countries that are most affected. We even recommend that you consider cutting relations with the current Taiwan government as a final action to show your disapproval until the issue of global warming is responsibly addressed. Strategically, due to Taiwan's unique political situation, the government of Taiwan may accept conditional negotiation if the consequences of not doing so are severe. No one wishes to push its own country into a grave diplomatic situation in the international community. However, for the welfare of all people, we ask for your interference and action. Please support the Taiwanese people, and help us to make the Taiwan government realize the importance of sustainable living, and the drawbacks of corporate governance, so that it can provide us and its friends with a sustainable and healthy living space.

Tuvalu, one of the 24 countries with diplomatic ties with Taiwan, faces the threat of extinction caused by rising ocean levels. Tuvalu is a country that is only 5 meters above sea level. On November 15, 2006, as a result of rising ocean levels, a number of the habitants of Tuvalu were forced to relocate to New Zealand, becoming the world's first group of environmental refugees.

Clearly, the Taiwan government has not seriously considered the diplomatic consequences of its disregard to responsibly combat global warming and taking actions similar to those taken by other industrialized countries. If the friends of Taiwan suffer under global climate change, Taiwan cannot be exempt from the suffering. The Australia government has refused to accept Tuvalu refugees into the country. The Taiwan government should ask itself: under the same situation, can we promise anything more? If not, we strongly demand that the Taiwanese government reconsider the pollution tax alternative and emission reduction plan to save lives, and to save Taiwan!

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