Planting Trees an Empty Gesture*
By Wu Pei-Ing
professor of the department of Agriculture Economics,
National Taiwan University
published in Taipei Times, June 9,2008 “Opinions”
Translated by Drew Cameron
With oil prices and inflation on the increase, the president, the
premier and other officials are trying to set good examples by cutting costs
and leading simpler lives. There is no doubt this is aimed at encouraging
Taiwanese to cut down on energy consumption to help improve the environment
and overcome the tough economic times the nation is facing. Different
ministries have either formally or informally announced various policies
aimed at improving the environment and boosting the economy. One policy
worthy of closer investigation was recently announced by the Environmental
Protection Administration (EPA), which involves planting trees in
The EPA is considering delaying the introduction of the proposed energy tax to avoid making things harder for Taiwanese companies. Although economic development must continue, it involves pollution. The Kyoto Protocol states that the carbon dioxide absorbed by afforested and reforested areas can be included in the calculation of a nation’s greenhouse gas reductions. The EPA has decided to cut reductions this way because it does not involve any restructuring of domestic industry and would have limited impact on the economy.
However, environmental protection groups have said that even if
60,000 hectares of forest were planted across
This reasoning is essentially based on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM basically means that the more wealthy Annex I countries of the protocol can support carbon dioxide reduction plans of the developing Non-Annex I countries, for example by planting trees, and gain credit toward their own carbon reduction levels as a result.
The problem with this idea is that while
Moreover, signing agreements aimed at reducing emissions and committing to them is something that needs to be done willingly on behalf of a nation.
Many countries are unwilling to commit to emission reductions because
sacrificing economic development to help improve long-standing environmental
problems created by all the countries is hard, especially when the benefits
from doing so are not immediately forthcoming. The
International agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol differ from
organizations such as the WTO and the WHO, which every nation wants to join.
It is safe to say that only nations isolated internationally such as
Therefore, it is only a matter of time before
Ultimately, the trees to be planted by
* :發表於June 9, 2008 Taipei Times, “Opinions”.