Friday, March 4, 2011

Buy a patch of Land. Help Save a Pink Dolphin !

Since April 11, 2010 the Matsu's" Fish Conservation Union (MFCU) and other NGOs have been asking members of the public to pledge money to collectively buy 200 hectares of land along the Changhua County coast, where Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Technology Corp. hopes to 'reclaim' over 4000 hectares of important wetlands on which to build oil refineries. (See Taipei Times article and film overview containing images of the proposed reclamation.)

This area is just north of the Jhuoshuei River in the largest wetland in western Taiwan. It is home to many diverse species of marine animals and oysters beds that have been farmed by local residents for generations. And just off the coast in shallow waters live the unique Taiwan pink dolphins. The Taiwan pink dolphins now number fewer than 100 and are listed as Critically Endangered. According Tsai Chia-yang (蔡嘉陽) director of Taiwan Environmental Protection Union Changhua Division, the National Property Administration has put the current value of the land in the area at only NT$100 [US$3] per square meter. “So why don’t we put our money together to purchase 200 hectares of the most sensitive land?” Tsai said. Since April 2010, more than 50,000 people have pledged to do just that. You, too, can help with this effort to create a Land Trust. Show the Taiwan government that you don’t want to have a petrochemical plant built in the wetland, in the home of the pink dolphin.

Help Save the Pink Dolphin by pledging your support today!
Click here to download the pledge form in English.
Click here to download the pledge form in Chinese.

For more information, contact: Miss Wu of the Taiwan Environmental Information Center Email:
Phone: 02-23021122

*NGOs participating in the land trust campaign: Changhua Coast Conservation Action, Changhua County Environmental Protection Union, Matsu's Fish Conservation Union, Society of Wilderness, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, Taiwan Environmental Information Center, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taiwan Pink Dolphins and the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project make it onto the BBC again

Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club trip to the Dacheng wetlands. Members under the dead palms in front of the Formosa Plastics HQ in Mailiao.

Following the trip by the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club to the Dacheng wetlands last Thursday, the controversial Kuokuang Petrochemical Project and the plight of the local communities and the critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins have made it onto the BBC website for the second time in just over a month. An article and film clip titled Opposition to Taiwanese chemical plant grows outlines some of the different points of view expressed by Kuokuang and then those opposed to the project. The Taiwan Foreign Correspondents' Club's trip to the Dacheng wetlands was co-organised by the Changhua Environmental Protection Alliances, TEDxTaipei and Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.

*The BBC refers to the Taiwan pink dolphins by their alternate common name; Taiwan white dolphins.

Also see: Taiwan Pink Dolphins make it onto the BBC

Wu needs to provide more than lip service

Attorney Severia Lu voices some thought-provoking comment in a recent letter to the Taipei Times on the threat that the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project poses to the nation's food supply. Lu has been actively involved in the legal effort against the infamous Kuokuang Petrochemical Project planned for Changhua Country which will destroy internationally listed vitally important wetlands which are key habitat for the critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins and several other threatened species. The area is also situated right in the middle of Taiwan's rice-basket and main aquaculture region where the toxic fallout from Kuokuang will cripple the local farming and fishing communities.

Wu needs to provide more than lip service
By Severia Lu 陸詩薇

Taipei Times

On Feb. 17, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) declared that food security should be elevated to the level of national security. One cannot help but feel we have been here before. At the time of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in 2009, Wu announced the establishment of a UN Framework Convention Climate Change task force that included a number of national security officials. The task force said the government believed climate change should be elevated to the level of national security.

It is reassuring that the government finally recognizes climate change and food security are national security level issues. However, Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) has been courting Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology shareholders since 2008, assuring them a proposed plant for Changhua County would proceed. The environment impact assessments (EIA) for an overall petrochemical industry policy have yet to be finished, while the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has fast-tracked the assessments for the Kuokuang project.

The EPA has been hampered by the constant errors in Kuokuang's submitted materials, indulging the firm by repeatedly allowing it to submit additional information and has even been giving Kuokuang guidance during EIA meetings. This makes us suspect that the government is either being duplicitous or suffers from a split personality.

First, the Kuokuang project is entirely inconsistent with the government's policy of energy conservation and carbon emissions reduction. Even if a reduced-scale plan is implemented, Kuokuang will still be belching out 7.29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. EPA statistics show each household in Taiwan contributes about 7.82 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That means the annual volume of greenhouse gases of the Kuokuang plant would be equal to emissions of 932,225 households.

The government wants people to do their bit for the environment by turning down their air-conditioners, wearing lighter clothing in the summer and switching to bikes, but it is willing to allow Kuokuang to spew more than 930,000 households' worth of carbon emissions every year. What's good for the goose is apparently off- limits for the gander.

Changhua County is the key grain and rice-producing region in Taiwan, responsible for 35 percent of national production. It is equally important for vegetables, having the second-highest national yield and providing 41 percent of national demand. In 2008, Changhua as a whole produced 28 million chickens, and one of every two eggs produced in Taiwan comes from this region. Major urban areas close to the proposed plant site account for roughly half of the area of Changhua County. Eighty-three percent of Taiwan's oysters and clams come from the Yunlin and Changhua county coastlines.

Taiwan's food self-sufficiency rate stands at just 30.6 percent, yet the government is steering Kuokuang in a project that will decimate the nation's food basket. Convincing the public that food security has been elevated to national security level will be a hard sell.

Both the government and the pro-development lobby are keen to portray the Kuokuang issue as a showdown between the economy and the environment. However, if we take Wu's words at face value, purely from the perspective of climate change and food security, whether or not building the Kuokuang plant is an issue of national security.

The Kuokuang EIA process is moving into its final stages. We will soon know whether the government is sincere in its intent to raise climate change and food security to national security status, or whether they are just paying lip service to the idea.

Severia Lu is an attorney.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Symposium on Climate Change, Industrial Policy and Risk Regulation

Symposium on Climate Change, Industrial Policy and Risk Regulation

The Chinese Association of Low Carbon Environment
Technological Policy and Risk Governance Center, NTU
Taiwan Economic Association
Public Economic Research Center, NTU

Date: March, 5, 2011 (Sat.) 13:10-18:00

Venue: Room 1119, College of Law, National Taiwan University

1. Online Registration until full
2. On site Registration (at venue)

The Purpose for this Symposium:
Recently, people from all sectors in Taiwan are debating on the issues about the direction of national policy for major industrial development, climate change, health risk and social economical assessment. Colleagues in academics also pay high attention on this issue, so we want to stand on the academic positions to conduct an objective and substantial discussion. Hope it will provide government a rightful reference for the direction of administration, hence we held this symposium.

On one hand the academics notice the serious deviation between the policies of sustainable development and industry; on the other hand, they have great concern with whether the issues in public health, economic, food and land resource could be fully clarified. Many colleagues express that the importance of responsibility for academics is to correct the foresight of national development and to use the scientific objective and truth to design the development of industrial policy.

Therefore, this symposium will uphold the direction of sustainable energy guideline因and energy conservation action plan and probe into the related climate change, industrial policy and risk regulation. The target of this symposium is to offer the government and the society a thinking standpoint by cohere the common sense on balanced development and maintenance of total control to energy intensive industry.

Notice:For a better environment, we recommend that our guests preparing tableware and cups by yourselves.