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Taiwan passes organic law to establish Ministry of the Environment

05/09/2023 10:27 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 9 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan passed a law Tuesday that elevated the status of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to the Ministry of the Environment, with a larger budget and workforce to better tackle climate change and other pressing challenges.

Speaking to reporters after the Organic Act for the Ministry of the Environment unanimously cleared the floor of the Legislature, EPA Minister Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) said he hopes the new ministry will be inaugurated on Aug. 22, the date when the EPA was established in 1987.

The Legislature also passed five other organic acts Tuesday to establish four specialized agencies -- Climate Change Agency, Resource Recycling Agency, Chemical Substance Management Agency, and Environmental Management Agency -- and a National Environmental Research Institute.

The four specialized agencies and the institute will operate independently as tier-three Cabinet agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment, according to the acts.

Chang also expressed hope that the four agencies and the institute will be officially established by the end of the year, adding that a final decision has yet to be made by the Executive Yuan, the highest administrative body of the country.

The Executive Yuan introduced the restructuring bills to assist in achieving its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, establishing a resource recycling system, and strengthening the management of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, in May last year.

The reorganization will increase the number of EPA staff by 264 to 1,007 and expand the workforce currently working on climate change at the EPA from 26 to 124, according to Chang.

The Preparatory Office of the Climate Change Agency begun operations on Earth Day, April 22, and has been tasked with drafting a carbon fee scheme to facilitate the government's 2050 goal of net zero emission.

The office is scheduled to present a draft scheme for public discussion this year, before a committee decides on the level of the carbon fee in the first half of next year, with the aim to start collecting the tax in the second half of next year, Chang said at the plaque-unveiling ceremony for the office.

The restructuring will give the EPA greater independence in devising strategies to address longstanding environmental challenges, Chang said to reporters Tuesday.

In a statement, the Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan, an environmental organization, said the restructuring plan fails to address the long-term demand made by environmental activists for an integrated management system covering water, forests and land resources.

Without a mandate to govern the use of water, forests and land resources, the Ministry of the Environment will lack the ability to guide the prioritization of climate change mitigation and adaptation actions over development projects, according to the statement.

In response, Chang said that a resolution attached to the Organic Act for the Ministry of the Environment requires the Executive Yuan to consider establishing a task force to coordinate the governance of land, forests and land, adding that relevant authorities in charge of these natural resources will be incorporated into the mechanism.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng, Wang Yang-yu and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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