September 19, 2018

Honorable President Tsai Ing-wen, Office of the President

No. 122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd., Zhongzheng District

Taipei City 10048, Taiwan (ROC)

 Honorable President Tsai Ing-wen 

Dear President Tsai,


We are writing as independent scientists, conservationists, energy experts, and advocates of free and open democratic processes to express our concern over the government-run Central Election Commission (CEC)’s handling of a proposed electoral referendum on nuclear energy.


According to media reports based on interviews with pro-nuclear advocates in Taiwan, the CEC rejected more than 24,000 signatures last Thursday. The CEC says that the petitioners violated protocol, but the petitioners say the CEC told them by phone that they could deliver the additional signatures.


We urge you and the CEC to accept all signatures delivered before the official deadline of September 14, and to treat the petitioners fairly. Whether you support or oppose nuclear energy, it is a vital that the people of Taiwan be able to deliberate and decide on this matter for themselves.


Many of us wrote to you (致蔡英文總統公開信中文翻譯) last year to express our concern about your administration’s determination to phase out nuclear plants. Since then, your government approved a new coal plant, which will increase the number of people who die prematurely from air pollution from Taiwanese coal plants.


We pointed to strong evidence that solar and wind will not be able to make up for the loss of nuclear power. Those two sources of energy combined provided less than five percent of Taiwan’s electricity last year. Nuclear energy, by contrast, generated 13 percent of Taiwan’s electricity. Had Taiwan been operating all of its reactors, nuclear energy would have provided 23% of its electricity.


In our letter we noted that Taiwan would need to build 617 solar farms the size of its largest proposed solar farm at a cost of $71 billion just to replace its nuclear reactors.


Now, as pro-nuclear and pro-democracy activist Shih-Hsiu Huang enters the sixth day of a hunger strike in protest of the electoral commission’s rejection of signatures, we urge you to take decisive action to restore Taiwan’s commitment to democracy and rule of law.


Thank you for considering our concerns.




James Hansen, Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions Program, Columbia University, Earth Institute, Columbia University

詹姆斯漢森(James Hansen) ,哥倫比亞大學地球學院所屬「氣候科學之認識與解決方案」負責人

Michael Shellenberger, Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment," President, Environmental Progress

麥克謝倫伯格(Michael Shellenberger),時代雜誌「環境英雄獎」得主,環境進展機構總裁

Andrew C. Klein, Past President, American Nuclear Society, Professor Emeritus, Oregon State University

Joe Lassiter, Professor, Harvard Business School

Mark Lynas, author, The God Species, Six Degrees

Martin Lewis, Department of History, Stanford University

Norris McDonald, President, Environmental Hope and Justice

Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. Winner of the National Medal of Science, 2001

Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize recipient, author of Nuclear Renewal and The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of Better Angels of Our Nature