Revisions of the Air Pollution Control Act include five points to implement “Clean Air” policies. In the future, 120 bylaws will be revised or added for thorough control under environmental protection and sustainable development principles. These bylaws cover planning of air quality improvement, as well as control, treatment, and response from end-of-pipe pollution emitters. With public health in mind, the EPA works to promulgate various measures to establish a prevention and warning mechanism.
“Clean Air” is a major environmental policy objective. Revisions of the Air Pollution Control Act were passed in the Legislative Yuan after three readings on 25 June 2018, announced for implementation by President Tsai Ing-wen on 1 August, and took effect on 3 August 2018. Five major points include additions and amendments of the good neighbor clause, the factory source control mechanism, mobile pollution control measures, harsher penalties, and importantly, pursuit of illegal gains and addition of the whistleblower clause. The revisions aim to strengthen planning for air quality improvement, pollution source control and middle management, and end-of-pipe treatment and response.
Total Makeover as New Stage in Air Pollution Controls Begins
1. Post-revision planning and implementation
(1) 118 bylaws will be amended or added after a preliminary inventory. As it takes time to formulate bylaws based on legal procedures, implementation principles have been set first as the legal bases for various operations during the transitional period.
(2) A mechanism is set up to evaluate air quality standards every four years. Air quality standards are the first target in each evaluation which act as the goals of the central government’s control projects and regional governments’ control plans. For stationary pollution sources, planning is to take place for the second phase of the Kaohsiung-Pingtung Area Air Pollutant Total Quantity Control (TQC) Plan. Addition and revisions of regulations relating to harmful pollutants, the food and beverage industry, boiler standards, and continuous automated monitoring will take priority.
(3) The EPA is going to intensify promotion of controls on mobile pollution sources and enhance economic incentives in order to encourage replacement of old cars and other pollution amelioration measures. After the revisions, control measures for diesel vehicles will help lower pollution emissions as the primary goal. Vehicles can be used normally as long as they comply with emission standards. Assistance will be given to reduce pollution produced by large diesel vehicles, and various subsidy measures are currently under evaluation. Moreover, more diverse improvement projects will be implemented to adjust pollution emission systems, install pollution prevention equipment, provide subsidies for vehicle purchases, and give credit guarantees or low-interest loans.
2. Current status of promotion of the Air Pollution Control Action Plan
Passed by the Executive Yuan on 21 December 2017, the Air Pollution Control Action Plan details specific control and prevention measures for every air pollution source. It covers air pollution reduction for state-run and large-scale enterprises, boiler controls, controls of oily smokes produced by the food and beverage industry, amelioration of problems caused by burning of joss paper, controls on airborne dust from construction and dumping sites, and reuse and treatment of agricultural straws and orchard branches. Other areas include controls on airborne dust from riverbanks, subsidization for replacing large diesel vehicles of phase 1 to 3, improvement of two-stroke motorcycles, promotion of electric produce shipping vehicles, port transportation controls, new traffic control measures, transport vehicle electrification, subsidization or promotion for installation of air-purifying walls, and so on.
The EPA has set various indicative policy goals, such as cutting in half days in 2019 on which air quality readings reach red alert levels (unhealthy for all groups) and by 2030, total electrification of newly purchased vehicles for government use and buses for public transportation. They also include total sales bans on petrol-powered motorcycles by 2035 and petrol-power vehicles by 2040. Via the aforementioned control and prevention measures, it is expected that, by the end of 2019, the annual average PM2.5 concentration will be reduced from 22µg/m3 (in 2015) to 18µg/m3, and the yearly number of red alert days reported by air quality monitoring stations from 997 station/days (in 2015) to 499 station-days.
In 2018, the average PM2.5 concentration in Taiwan was 17.5µg/m3, lower than the 18.34µg/m3 in 2017, the 20.0µg/m3 in 2016, and the 22.0µg/m3 in 2015. Also, as of 2018, there had been 310 station-days of air quality red alerts, also lower than the 483 stations-days in 2017 and the 874 station-days in 2016.
Results of the overall Air Pollution Control Action Plan as of the end of January 2019 include assisting 834 industrial boilers (531 currently under improvement with subsidies and improvement completed for 303), and assisting 653 commercial boilers (292 currently under improvement with subsidies and 361 suspended for operation or demolished). Also, 6,365 food and beverage enterprises were installed with oily smoke filtration equipment, 30,302 tons of joss paper burning was controlled, and 240,983 kilometers of riverways were cleaned up after the flooding period to control dust. Moreover, 21,758 diesel vehicles of Phases 1 and 2 were phased out, and 1,062 diesel vehicles of Phase 3 as well as 723,070 two-stroke motorcycles underwent pollution control. The EPA will keep implementing the plan with regional environmental bureaus in order to improve air quality in autumn and winter.
1. The EPA will continue to analyze air quality, update the air pollutant emission inventory, develop model simulation tools, analyze pollution sources and causes, and enhance planning of air quality management strategies.
2. Total quantity control of air pollutants will continue, as well as management of targeted stationary sources, with emission standards evaluated and tightened to ensure proper implementation of various measures.
3. The boiler improvement strategy will continue, including establishing a promotion platform, organizing seminars, providing boiler subsidies, removing obstacles for phase-out, and speeding up phase-out of high-polluting boilers.
4. The EPA’s 2019 goals for improving large diesel vehicles under Phases 1 to 3 are to phase out 6,000 vehicles and lower the pollution of 7,000 vehicles, and improve pollution of or phase out one million two-stroke motorcycles. Other measures to cut down emissions of mobile pollution sources include designating air quality maintenance zones that prohibit or limit entrance of high-polluting vehicles, as well as promoting low-polluting transit systems and clean fuels.
5. Controls for airborne dust from riverbanks will be properly carried out. The EPA aims to reduce 1,110 metric tons of total suspended particulate (TSP) and 320 metric tons of particulate matter. Ten acres of exposed surfaces will be turned into green land, which is expected to absorb a total of 75 metric tons of sulfur dioxide and 3.8 metric tons of nitrogen dioxide and also reduce five metric tons of particulate matter.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 22(2)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)