Gov’t hopes NT$36 bil. plan can clean up Taiwan’s air

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Premier Lin Chuan on Thursday unveiled an ambitious NT$36.5 billion plan to clean up Taiwan’s air, pledging to reduce ambient particulate matter (PM 2.5) and other forms of air pollution by 2019. Measures to regulate fixed and mobile sources of pollution are at the center of the plan, which includes the lofty goal of replacing 1 million two-stroke scooters nationwide by 2019. The effort relies on offering subsidies to incentivize owners to get rid of the heavily polluting vehicles. The handouts will range from NT$500 to NT$7,000 depending on whether owners simply give up their two-stroke motorcycle or trade it in for a greener alternative, such as an electric scooter. The Cabinet would find money to continue the subsidy scheme even if the funds allocated for it as part of the new plan ran dry, Lin said. The government will also step up inspections and encourage citizens to report two-stroke scooters that appear to have emissions above the legal limit.

In presenting the Air Pollution Prevention Strategy at a press conference in the Executive Yuan, Lin said the plan was a high priority for the administration. “I once traveled by road from Taoyuan to Pingtung and the sky was smoggy the entire way,” Lin said. “It really hit me then: Air pollution is a problem we must develop solutions for.” Lin said NT$10.1 billion of funding for the project would come from state-run Taiwan Power Co., while the remaining NT$168.4 billion would be spent by private companies on upgrading their equipment and infrastructure to be more efficient and sustainable. Pointing out that the causes of pollution were multifarious, making it hard to pinpoint prevention efforts, the premier called on the Cabinet to prepare medium- and long-term strategies. In total, there are to be 14 measures utilizing various incentives and penalties to reduce the amount of particulate matter in the air. The government wants to bring the average concentration from 22 micrograms per square meter to 18, an improvement of 18.2 percent. The government also hopes to reduce the number of air quality monitoring stations flashing red warnings each day from 997 to 528 for an improvement of 47 percent. Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan, who also attended the announcement, said that pollution generated outside Taiwan contributed roughly 34 to 40 percent of pollution islandwide. Of the locally generated pollution, Lee said, mobile pollutive sources such as cars and scooters were the main source, accounting for around 30 to 37 percent, followed by industrial sources (27 to 30 percent) and other sources (32 to 43 percent).