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Develop smaller towns, not cities, to protect environment: scholar

2012/04/23 20:47:00

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) The development of small- and medium-sized towns, instead of mega-cities, should be the way of the future, since this would help people to better co-exist with nature, a Chinese scholar said in Taipei Monday.

"Major cities around the world are the cause of global warming and the deteriorating environment," said Du Xiangwan, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, on the opening of a two-day environmental summit that was attended by Taiwan's environmental minister and vice minister.

Around 150 experts in the field of environmental protection from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the United States have gathered in Taipei for the event, organizers said.

According to Du, half of the world's population lives in cities and consumes 75 percent of the energy in the world, creating 80 percent of greenhouse gases emitted globally.

Acknowledging that countries in different development stages face different issues and problems, Du said countries should no longer build skyscrapers, but more inhabitable small- and medium-sized towns.

Countries also need to change their approach and synchronize the progress of urbanization and the modernization of agriculture, Du added.

In addition, Du suggested the creation of a development indicator based on the well-being of people to counter the emphasis placed on the growth of the gross domestic product figure, which can be achieved through wasteful and polluting construction projects.

During his speech at the summit, Environmental Minister Stephen Shen said only by encouraging people to change their behavior and habits can greenhouse gas emissions be curbed.

Meanwhile, Deputy Environmental Minister Chang Tzi-chin said Taiwan has successfully reduced the annual percentage of days with substandard air quality from 7 percent in 1994 to 1.4 percent in 2010.

These figures show the country has met its target of 1.5 percent or less by 2011 ahead of schedule, Chang said.

Chang said the achievement was made by establishing a regulatory system and introducing economic incentives under the principle that "polluters pay for the costs."

(By Zoe Wei and Kay Liu)
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