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September 26, 2017

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Taiwan must work harder to develop a 'low-carbon' nation

Climate scientists agree that global warming is one of the most important environmental problems in the world today. They contend that the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, the extensive use of agricultural land and overfishing have dramatically changed the composition of the atmosphere and triggered climate change.

In the lead up to this year's Earth Day, we also believe that cities around the island should strike a better balance between unabated commercial development and its residents' quality of life.

Light pollution from improper outdoor lighting, for instance, not only wastes vast quantities of natural and financial resources each year; but is also a traffic hazard, causes insomnia and harms nocturnal wildlife.

As a precautionary measure, the Taipei City Council recently drafted a set of "Light Pollution Management Autonomy Regulations" that would fine installers, owners and users of hazardous light sources from NT$5,000 to NT$50,000, as well as stipulating quantified levels of permitted illumination so that residents can better enjoy the views of the Milky Way from their homes. This new bill is moving in the right direction.

According to a 2009 report compiled by the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA, 行政院環境保護署署), the common types of commercial signage ranked from the highest luminance are: dynamic LEDs (1490.6 candela per square meter), static LEDs, neon lights, and light boxes (174.9 candela per square meter). Dynamic LEDs, at eightfold the luminance of light boxes, are the source of the most complaints.

It might sound cliché but it is not too late to pledge yourself to commit an "Act of Green" for Mother Nature. Since the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou took office on May 20, 2008, the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration has pushed for the adoption of the Sustainable Energy Policy Guidelines (SEPG) and passed regulations aimed at reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions and implementing low-interest loans to help households buy new equipment to reduce electricity consumption.

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