Taiwan needs to embrace clean energy

I co-signed the following letter which was published in the Taipei Times today.

Is there an unfortunate misunderstanding about German politics and history among some Taiwanese?

After two of us had to clarify the path Germany took to abolish the death penalty, (“Real deal behind abolition,” March 17, 2011, page 8), we now have to clarify a misrepresentation of the anti-nuclear stance of Germany’s Green Party (“Anti-nuclear protesters confronted by Taipower ‘thug’ police: DPP lawmaker,” Sept. 10, page 3).

Contrary to allegations made in an article on Taipower’s Web site, the German Green Party was partly founded by people emerging from the popular anti-nuclear movement formed during the 1970s. It always had a staunch and unwavering anti-nuclear platform, and, most importantly, has been a key factor in pushing Germany toward a path of sustainable energy based on clean renewable energy and away from dirty coal and potentially calamitous nuclear fuel.

Germany is now a world leader in producing and installing renewable energy, such as wind power, thanks in large part to the Green Party’s insistence of giving clean energy a chance during its stay of power in German’s national government in the early 2000s. Continue reading

Taiwan needs a Green president(ial candidate)

My letter in the Taipei Times today suggests that Taiwan needs a capital “G” Green candidate in the presidential election, not merely one who waves a green flag. The text below is the original unedited version of the letter that I submitted to the Taipei Times.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is currently conducting a series of debates to select its candidate for the 2012 presidential election. Incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou is likely to be unopposed as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate.

Once the candidates are selected and the campaign gets underway the debate will be shaped by the agendas of the pan-blue and pan-green camps. Issues related to national security,  Taiwan’s relations with China and the economy are sure to be prominent in the campaign.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan has thrust the issue of nuclear power into the spotlight. It is likely that the DPP’s candidate will promote a policy to phase out nuclear power in Taiwan. Whether they will actually be able to achieve this if they are elected to office is another question. Chen Shui-bian promised to stop construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant before he was elected in 2000. Ultimately construction of the plant went ahead though as Chen faced intense political opposition to his plan after he was elected. Continue reading

Toxic practice spreads to Taiwan blogosphere

China has the 50 Cent Party (五毛黨) to regulate and control content on the internet. Now it seems Taiwan has its own version labelled the $5,000 Party (五千黨). The latter term was coined by convenor of the Taiwan Green Party Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) on his blog in response to an incident where a group of 20 bloggers where paid NT$5,000 to participate in a tour of a petrochemical plant and write about it on their blog. The Taipei Times reports in more detail:

Pan told the Taipei Times by telephone that the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) had invited 20 bloggers on a trip to visit a petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung and an electronic appliance plant nearby.

“The trip was totally free for participants. They received free meals and a NT$5,000 cash award,” Pan said. Continue reading

Rain cannot stop the LGBT Pride Parade

Four men at LGBT Pride in Taipei

An estimated 30,000 people joined the 8th annual Taiwan LGBT Pride (台灣同志遊行) march in the centre of Taipei yesterday. Light rain did not stop the crowds from coming out to march with the numbers up on last year. The march is said to be largest LGBT Pride event in Asia.

The theme for this year’s event was “Out & Vote” (投同志政策一票). Politicians in Taiwan often make promises about gay rights, but have failed to implement their promises or pass legislation to benefit the LGBT community. The Taipei Times has a good article giving some more background on some of the key issues. Continue reading

Greens from Asia Pacific region meet in Taipei

The Asia Pacific Greens Network Congress took place in Taipei from Friday through Sunday. It brought together members of Green parties and environmental activists from many countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and also from Europe. I attended the conference on Saturday. Continue reading

Green Party protests to save tree


Green Party candidate for the Taipei City No. 6 District by-election, Calvin Wen (溫炳原), spent 26 hours in a camphor tree on the site of the Old Songshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠) in Taipei to protest and prevent its removal.


The protest began on Friday afternoon as Green Party Taiwan members discovered the last tree was about to be removed. Calvin was able to climb the tree with assistance from several other Green Party members who were  then removed from the site by police. An agreement was later reached with police to allow four people to accompany Calvin at the base of the tree. The Green Party argued that the removal of the tree was illegal as the the second environmental impact assessment for the site had not yet passed. Continue reading

1206 climate change action in Taipei

The 1206 climate change action was held in Taipei today. It was part of an international day of action on climate change. The action is timed to coincide with the UNFCCC climate talks in Poznan, Poland. I also participated in the 2006 and 2007 actions in Taipei.

This year the action began at Freedom Square (自由廣場) where people gathered for a march. Last year about three thousand people marched, but this year the numbers were down to less than a thousand. Climate change is an issue which gets little attention in Taiwan and perhaps Taiwanese are too consumed by other issues at the moment to get involved in action against climate change. Still a large number of environmental groups were involved including the Green Party, Society of Wilderness and the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation. There were also several groups opposing local development projects. Continue reading

Car Free Day bike rides

Cyclists line up to participate in the Car Free Day bike ride in Taipei County

22 September is International Car Free Day. The event began in Paris in 1998 and is now held in cities around the world. This year marked the seventh year Car Free Day activities have been held in Taipei.

I last participated in Taipei’s Car Free Day bike ride back in 2006. In previous years there has been a combined event for Taipei City and County, however this year there were two separate rides. On Saturday there was a ride from Yonghe to Xindian in Taipei County and then on Sunday a ride from Taipei City Hall to Gongguan.

Members of the Taiwan Green Party protest against the Dan-Bei Expressway

Saturday’s ride began at the riverside park in Yonghe. I joined with a group from the Taiwan Green Party who staged a protest against the planned Dan-Bei Expressway. This proposed road would have impacts on the Hongshulin mangrove forest as well as leading to increased traffic and CO2 emissions. The government wants to start the project without doing an environmental impact assessment. A good background on the issue can be found in this feature from the Taipei Times. Continue reading