Government agencies aim for greener policies

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou will announce energy-saving guidelines for government offices and officials on World Environment Day on June 5, his number-two aide said yesterday. The guidelines are meant to encourage government offices and officials to save energy and cut back on carbon emissions, said Yeh Chin-chuan, deputy presidential secretary general. They will include encouraging government officials to choose vehicles with low exhaust volume, using less paper and using non-disposable tableware in offices, said Yeh.

Officials will be encouraged to wear suits and ties only when attending formal meetings, he added. While some government departments have been making individual efforts to save energy, the Ma administration now is aiming at a more comprehensive and coordinated environmental campaign. World Environment Day was designated by the U.N. General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. This year’s World Environment Day slogan is “Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.”

Opposition Legislator Kuan Pi-ling said it will take more than just some “image packaging” energy-saving guidelines to solve the energy crisis. Kuan, from the Democratic Progressive Party, said she does not see a comprehensive energy policy coming. She criticized the Ma administration plans to sharply raise gasoline prices and electricity bills. “Certainly the government’s actions will have a positive exemplary effect on the society,” Tsui Shu-hsin, the secretary-general of the environmental organization Green Citizens’ Action Alliance, was cited by CNA as saying. But she added that she hopes the government will move to legislate environmental changes by passing important laws like the Greenhouse Gases Reduction Act as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, in response to the president’s environmental concerns, many government offices are adopting new measures to save energy and resources, according to the Central News Agency.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications will start using a web conferencing system, so that officials in remote areas will not have to travel to Taipei for meetings. The ministry will also install in its offices an intelligent network that will adjust the settings on lighting and air conditioning systems based on humidity and temperature. With this network, energy consumption is expected to be reduced by 30 percent, CNA said.

The Bureau of Energy plans to improve the energy efficiency of its air conditioners and elevators, and to replace traffic light bulbs and public exit sign bulbs with the more energy efficient light emitting diodes.

The Environmental Protection Administration has stopped providing its staff and visiting reporters with paper cups, and turns off its lights from noon to 1:00 p.m. every day.

The administration is also discouraging unnecessary use of its elevators.