Nobel Laureate Calls for Taiwan Carbon Tax

Former President of Academia Sinica, and Nobel Laureate for his services to Chemistry, Yuan Tseh Lee, today urged the government of Taiwan to impose a carbon tax to deal with the country’s worsening air pollution.

Speaking at the opening of an exhibition at the National Museum of Natural Science, Professor Lee said pollution should be converted into a price in order to achieve an ideal state of clean energy.

Professor Lee drew attention to the costs of pollution in terms of the amount spent on lung cancer treatment and other health costs brought about by the problem. “Pollution has a price,” he argued.

Many areas of Taiwan experience critical levels of fine particulate air pollution. The problem is especially acute during winter months.

National Museum of Natural Science Director Wei-Hsin Sun explained that during warmer months, convection causes air to rise, and winds tend to blow the pollution away, but during winter, stable air causes a concentration of particulates.

Pollution levels in Taiwan are color-coded from green as clean to the most critical level known as “purple haze”.

In the past, Taiwan’s government has conveniently blamed pollution levels on its close neighbor, China.

Although Taiwan sometimes suffers from pollution exuding from China, a recent report from Taiwan Environmental Information Center, stated that only 30% of Taiwan’s air pollution problem originated in China, and 70% originated at home.

Museum director with display of pollution levels made from Lego
National Museum of Natural Science Director Wei-Hsin Sun (孫維新) with a display of Taiwan’s pollution levels in 2015 made out of 1000 Lego pieces. The problem is even worse now in 2017. Photo: UDN

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