Activists urge government action to reduce pollution

Environmental advocates yesterday used a pair of inflatable lungs and an oversized face mask in a demonstration in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, calling for government intervention and public participation to control air pollution, ahead of an anti-pollution rally on Saturday.

The installation was set up in a symbolic gesture of preventing government officials from being exposed to pollutants and associated health risks so the government could be functional to combat air pollution.

Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs consultant Yang Joe-ming (楊澤民) said that the nation, except for Hualien and Taitung, should be designated a class-three air pollution control zone, as excessive air pollution has persisted for more than three years.

The nation’s air pollution controls have lagged behind other Asian countries, Yang said.

Taipei had similar PM10 levels as Tokyo in 1998, but they are now 2.4 times higher than Tokyo’s, as the Japanese government has reduced air pollution to meet WHO standards, while Taipei has done nothing to curb worsening conditions, he said.

“Parents want to give their children a carefree childhood, but air pollution has affected their living conditions. We will fight for children’s rights to grow up safely and healthily as we have fought for children’s rights to better education,” Association of Parent Participation Education director Chien Mi-chien (簡彌堅) said.

The government should put public health and welfare above economic development, rather than encouraging pollution-intensive development, Chien said.

National Federation of Teachers’ Unions director Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said the government’s air quality program in schools, which uses colored flags to notify students about air quality, has limited effect, as air pollution cannot be reduced simply by flag-raising.

The groups called on the public to participate in the rally, which is to be attended by Democratic Progressive Party vice presidential candidate Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) and Chiayi Mayor Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲).

They also called for a fossil-fuel-free and nuclear-free development, a four-year, 40 percent reduction of industrial emissions in class-three air pollution control zones and the imposition of pollution taxes.

Source URL: Taipei Times