Cabinet reveals three-year plan to tackle air pollution

The Executive Yuan unveiled a three-year NT$36.5 billion (US$1.2 billion) air pollution control and prevention strategy April 13, pledging to reduce the density of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in Taiwan from 22 to 18 micrograms per cubic meter by 2019.

During a news conference in Taipei City, Premier Lin Chuan said in addition to the 18.2 percent reduction in the pollutants, the initiative aims to also reduce the number of air quality red alert days by 47 percent.

On top of funds allocated by the government, Lin said state-run Taiwan Power Co. and the private sector will inject NT$10.1 billion and NT$168.4 billion, respectively, over the period to combat the country's air pollution challenge.

According to the Cabinet, PM 2.5 originating from outside Taiwan accounts for between 34 percent and 40 percent of the country's total pollutants. Among the locally produced aerosols, between 30 percent and 37 percent are created by vehicular sources, with 27 percent to 31 percent emitted by the industrial sector and the remaining from various other sources.

Climate and seasonal changes also play a significant role in the country's air quality, especially during the period from October to March when northeastern winds bring in smog from neighboring areas.

The Cabinet's initiative seeks to address these problems through 14 specific measures. These include phasing out one million two-stroke motorcycles and 80,000 Euro I and II heavy duty diesel trucks with financial incentives, and subsidizing the installation of smoke filters on 38,000 Euro III diesel trucks. Euro I, II and III refer to the different European emission standards for large goods vehicles.

Efforts will also be directed at encouraging the use of public transportation, reducing pollution at harbor and port areas, as well as promoting rail cargo transportation and electric vehicles.

Other measures include implementing stricter environmental protection rules, stepping up law enforcement efforts, subsidizing purchases of gas-powered water boilers and upgrading the efficiency of the country's fossil fuel-burning power generation facilities.

Among the 22 cities, counties and special municipalities nationwide, Taitung, Hualien and Yilan counties in eastern Taiwan had the best air quality in 2016 in that order, while the bottom three spots went to Yunlin County, Chiayi City and Tainan City in the south.

Source: Taiwan Today