Taiwan needs a Green president(ial candidate)

My letter in the Taipei Times today suggests that Taiwan needs a capital “G” Green candidate in the presidential election, not merely one who waves a green flag. The text below is the original unedited version of the letter that I submitted to the Taipei Times.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is currently conducting a series of debates to select its candidate for the 2012 presidential election. Incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou is likely to be unopposed as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate.

Once the candidates are selected and the campaign gets underway the debate will be shaped by the agendas of the pan-blue and pan-green camps. Issues related to national security,  Taiwan’s relations with China and the economy are sure to be prominent in the campaign.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan has thrust the issue of nuclear power into the spotlight. It is likely that the DPP’s candidate will promote a policy to phase out nuclear power in Taiwan. Whether they will actually be able to achieve this if they are elected to office is another question. Chen Shui-bian promised to stop construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant before he was elected in 2000. Ultimately construction of the plant went ahead though as Chen faced intense political opposition to his plan after he was elected.

The plan for construction of the Kuokuang petrochemical plant on reclaimed wetlands in Changhua County is also a contentious issue. The DPP’s presidential candidate is likely to oppose this plan. Whether the DPP will actually stop the project if it wins the presidency is another question.

Although the DPP has made promises on some key environmental issues it cannot be considered a capital “G” Green Party despite its appropriation of the colour. It is still committed to to the promotion of a model of industrial development that is ultimately antithetical to protection of the environment.

I suggest that Taiwan’s Green Party and environmental NGOs join together to nominate their own candidate for president in the forthcoming election. While such a candidate would have no chance of winning, they would be able to act as a voice for people’s concerns about a broad range of environmental issues.

Climate change, energy policy, water resources and industrial pollution are key issues that affect the livelihood of everyone in Taiwan. These issues are complex and inter-related. They demand a bold plan, rather than a piecemeal approach of opposing or stopping certain projects. A Green presidential candidate could help the environment movement articulate a comprehensive vision for Taiwan’s future based on a broad range of policies.

Although victory in the 2012 presidential election might be elusive, a Green candidate could be a pioneer for the day that Taiwan elects its first truly Green president.

3 Replies to “Taiwan needs a Green president(ial candidate)”

  1. Well, there is a Green Party (who I believe is committed to the environment), but unfortunately they stand basically no chance of winning the highest elected office – they barely win any seats in legislative bodies – if they win any at all (I have not seen the stats).

    1. Jenna, at present even winning a seat in the legislature is extremely difficult for the Green Party. It is still important for the Green Party to contest the elections though because eventually a breakthrough will come.

  2. I agree. And hey, in the USA plenty of candidates run for offices, including the Presidential office, knowing they won’t get elected but hoping to make enough noise that their issues get put on the table by candidates who stand a chance. Even if the Green Party doesn’t win, just by being a presence there’s a better chance that environmental issues will get picked up by other candidates.

    Not that I recommend the USA as a wonderful and flawless system. No system that elected Bush, TWICE, could be that great.

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