叫「煙囪負責」?

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1989 / 2月

文‧張靜茹 圖‧鄭元慶


生活在煙塵瀰漫的環境裡,你有什麼損失?

根據專家估算,除了建築物清洗、油漆等額外開銷費用,你可能賠上健康,使整個社會多花醫藥費、浪費工時。花點錢、花點時間,這些損失還不算太大,至於灰天暗日、美景消失;家屬罹患氣喘、肺病,所帶來的緊張和壓力;把污穢留給後代子孫承擔;二氧化碳增加,致使臭氧層破洞、氣候改變……,卻顯然很難「花錢消災」。

在環境難題愈趨棘手的今天,推行各種「環境使用費」措施,也算是權宜之計。


地球村裡,不只空氣品質頻拉警報,其他各種汙染也已緊逼身側。為了換取些許利益,而犧牲無窮的環境代價,是今人留給後人最大的禍患。

遺憾的是,許多污染原可避免或減少。例如,若設廠之初就做污水處理,將重金屬脫離,就不致如桃園基力化工廠,造成農地鎘污染;或可在發現污染時勒令停工,當不致造成受污染農地,在未來千百年內都無法再生糧食的惡果。

事先的防治,是目前減少環境損失的辦法之一;不過,污染防治的費用非常昂貴。

根據環保署估計,現有國內污染防治工程的市場,至少有一百億台幣;不久前工業局也表示,在未來五年,國營企業每一年將花兩百億做污染防治。

看在經營污染防治生意者的眼裡,這不啻是塊「環保大餅」;但在環保人士的想法中,企業界該為污染付出的代價不止這些;至於經濟學者,則認為這只是廠商的一筆「原來就該付的創業成本」。

讓煙囪負責自己吐出的煙!

經濟學中有此一說。過去地主、企業主「蓄奴」從事勞動,不需付任何工資,因此生產成本中沒有勞力成本可言。但當公眾無法再忍受奴隸制度,人權意識覺醒,勞力成本就開始產生,「工資」理所當然變成了生產成本的一部分。

現代人對環境的剝削,也有類似的過程。在大眾尚未查覺到水、空氣被污染的危機時,環境權似乎只屬於少數企業、廠商,他們任意排放污水、髒空氣、丟廢棄物……,百無禁忌。

廿世紀初,開始有人意識到,如此下去大家連呼吸都困難,因此不願再忍受污染,並提出「讓煙囪負責自己吐出的煙」——污染者必須拿錢出來處理污染時,一場類似爭取人權的環境權爭奪戰便無可避免了。

由於企業主在付出建廠、原料、機器、勞力等成本外,又多出一張處理廢物的帳單,荷包受到影響,自是心有不甘。

但長久累積的污染使受害者日增,自力救濟、環保運動迭起,一直在替少數污染者負擔社會成本的納稅人也不再沈默……,凡此種種,都迫使業者節節退讓。到今天,除非想引起眾怒,已沒有人會否認,企業必須將對社會造成的污染成本,反映在生產成本當中。

收回環境權

一九七四年,石油輸出國家組織為使各國貿易競爭更公平,提出了「污染者付費」這一名詞,希望不只是少數國家,而是所有國家的業者都能在生產成本中,加入這種因污染造成的社會成本。由於它是因大眾爭取環境權所產生,是要企業在事前做防治,而非事後亡羊補牢,因此也有人認為稱做「環境使用費」比較恰當。

我國業者在一九七三年第一個環保法令「水污染防治法」實施之後,正式支付了第一筆環境使用費——花錢購置污水處理設備,以達到排放標準。

接著由於公害頻頻,對大眾和環境造成影響,輿論不斷指責業者,政府又趕緊訂定空氣、廢棄物、有毒物質等各種污染的排放標準、防治法規,迫使業界花更多經費從事污染防治、改善生產方式,以滿足大眾對環境品質的要求。

但要真正落實把「所有」污染成本,轉化為企業的內部成本,卻有許多困難,就像爭取人權,也要經過挫折階段。

儘管大眾對企業加諸的壓力未曾鬆懈,許多業者也明知污染者付費已是既成事實,但仍設法抗拒,以求能少付點成本。尤其我國在追求經濟發展的過程中,對工商業百般優惠,如今半路殺出程咬金,自然需要時間適應。加上最嚴重的污染者往往又是最大的企業,不免運用影響力,透過議會或有關單位協調,來達到他們所希望的條件,也使經濟學者頗不以為然。

過度補貼,無濟於事

在經濟部獎勵投資條例中,對企業從事污染防治有租稅減免、金融性補貼措施、遷廠獎勵、污染防治技術和處理設備的研究開發、成立污染防治輔導小組……等各種「補貼」措施,總計起來,企業界最高可節省百分之六十的防污成本。

一位經濟學者以為,以納稅人的錢來補貼廠商從事污染防治,違反了污染者付費的公平原則;而且業者因為可節省不少錢,產品價格並未反應真正成本,價錢可以訂低,使外銷訂單不致減少,表面看來具有競爭力,實際上是以全體納稅人的錢在補貼外國消費者。

「在經濟學者的理想中應完全不補貼」,中央研究院經濟研究所副研究員蕭代基表示,但在施政上卻往往會有出入,而且全世界都一樣,只是補貼程度上的差別。

「不過像我國以這麼優渥條件補貼企業界從事污染防治的國家,可以稱得上是獨一無二」,蕭代基指出,在日本,只有間接性的低利貸款和加速折舊的優惠;而且許多國家的補助前題是已對企業徵收污染稅,再從中取出部分補貼,並未動用一般納稅人的錢。

污染防治可不是公益事業

問題是,這樣的「厚待」,似乎未見得能使業者增加對防治污染的責任感。國內目前仍以中小企業佔多數,但由於申請補助必需會計帳目完整可信、備有擔保品,很多廠商因此寧可放棄享受優惠,造成雖然買了防治設備,但既然並未申請補助,於是出現「有人來檢查才開機,平時則關機」以彌補「損失」的情形。至於大企業,則自認為從事污染防治是「為大眾謀福利」、是在從事「公益活動」而沾沾自喜。

種種因素累積的結果,便是防治效果不見顯著改進。蕭代基以為,由表象看來,廠商因污染防治使污染量減少,但高補貼也使高污染廠仍能生存且數量增加,當總生產量增加,總污染量自然更是上升了。

污染者付費的原意,是希望廠商在估算污染成本後,再決定要不要生產或生產多少,才不致生產過剩,浪費社會資源;甚至要藉此淘汰一些生產效益已不及成本的重汙染工業。

一步步把成本還給污染者

事實上,即使我國廠商能依照公訂的排放標準從事污染防治,也還無法把所有對環境造成的污染成本算進去,比如塑膠產品在賣出後,仍會造成污染;達到排放標準後排放出去的污物,還是會影響環境。

在許多國家早已不只以命令式的規定來進行污染防治,而有各種不同方法交互運用,例如也對污染排放量收費;由成品的原始原料開始,到產品製成的每一步驟都課稅;為防止污染量增加,也有「污染量交易制度」的出現。

在美國,有些州限定一個廠或工業區的總排放量,再由廠商自行調配,由於量只控制在一個數目,為了能長期生產,企業就必需做污染防治;若想要擴廠生產,就要看有沒有想關閉的廠商願轉讓排放量。

隨著環保意識的高漲,環境使用費自然會不斷增加和多樣。過去業者買到土地就可蓋廠房;未來可能要擔負一再被拒絕、一再尋找廠址的成本;找到地方後得請人做「環境影響評估」,還必須「敦親睦鄰」贊助當地的公共建設……,國內少數業者都已在付這些「成本」。

一些西方國家,廠商為表明防污誠心,花錢訓練當地居民辨識該工廠是否超出污染標準的能力;美國政府污染稽查的人力成本,也已改由企業定時、主動向環保單位證明自己的防污成果;「每一項都在把防污的成本還給業者」,消費者文教基金會委員、台灣大學經濟系教授吳忠吉解釋,也就是大眾在把環境權一步步要回來。

自然景觀何價?

根據美、日的經驗,這種種成本加起來,只不過佔業者所有成本的百分之六到八,「國內業者不須緊張」,政治大學財稅系副教授鄭文輝以為,國內工商業的防污成本即使高到百分之廿也不會垮的。倒是「若不儘早督促業者支付這些成本,造成污染事實後的賠償費,才真是一筆天文數字」,他說。

雖然經濟學者不斷想法要計算污染的社會成本,這方面的研究也一直在增加;但大部分人仍不得不承認,因污染而失去的自然景觀、安靜、人的基本尊嚴等等的價值,是無法轉變成等值金錢的。

對這種無法彌補的傷害,有些國家還是設法補救,例如美國在石油和化學材料等污染稅收中,提出一筆所謂的「超級基金」,以防萬一爆發嚴重事件,可以立即有經費用來清除污染和賠償。

可惜實行的並不成功。因為一些無法估計的成本,往往也不易證明和企業的直接關係,如工廠附近的肺癌患者病例比其他地方高,卻還無法因此斷定就是這家工廠引起的。

業者為了生存,也不願承認自己是罪魁禍首,這筆向業者收來的公害基金,變成了受害者拿來和企業主打官司的費用。

國內像這樣無法清楚找出責任者的糾紛也日漸增多。二仁溪「綠牡蠣」事件、李長榮化工都是其中的例子。公害法庭又未成立,造成業者與民眾對立,政府忙著解決公害糾紛,反而無暇顧及真正的「污染問題」。

要使汙染者能真正做好污染防治,避免造成嚴重傷害,最重要的還要有完備的法令,和確實發揮監督功能的執行者。

生活環境是向後代子孫暫借

不過,還是有許多汙染是花再多錢、訂再多法令,也沒有人敢保證未來就不會再對人類、社會造成傷害,如核廢料和有毒廢棄物的處理。

因此不少環保人士認為,不管污染造成的影響大小,污染本身就是不道德的。若不能做到零污染,環境權就不可買賣,「污染者付費」也不該被容許。

但是,除非大家都同意不過現代化生活,不用石化原料製造的產品,甚至不再搭乘交通工具、不用電力,否則在目前的情況下,恐怕我們還是得借助各種方法,包括要「污染者付費」來控制污染,使環境不再惡化。

至於無法算清的那筆帳,只有靠個人節制過度追求物質、財富的行為。畢竟,若在我們這一代把維持最基本生命的空氣、水和各種資源都弄髒或用光,即使能留給子孫無數錢財,又有何用?

〔圖片說明〕

P.77

讓「煙囪負責自己吐出來的煙塵?」大眾環境意識覺醒後,污染者不能再對自己製造的公害漠視。

P.78

污染防治設備的費用,是企業必須支付的生產成本。

P.80

天空雖藍,海洋何時可清?污染企業不做防治,使自然環境受到千百年無法痊癒的傷害,這豈是錢可解決的?

P.80

生產的最終目的是為了消費,所以消費者也應該負擔一部分污染成本。

P.80

像石油這種有限的資源,今人多用一公升,後代子孫就少一公升,為此蕭代基建議,應在石油售價中加上「後代子孫成本」。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Making the Smokestacks Pay

Chang Chin-ju /photos courtesy of Vincent Chang /tr. by Peter Eberly

What are the costs of living in a polluted environment?

Besides the extra expense of cleaning and painting buildings, there are the social costs of lost work time and increased medical expenses--costs that can be paid for with time and money. As to dingy skies and vanishing scenery, lung disease and damaged health, psychological tension and pressure, increased carbon dioxide, holes in the ozone layer,and changes in climate. . . those effects are clearly more difficult to solve simply by throwing money at them.

Today, however, as environmental problems become more and more acute, the principle of "the polluter pays" is truly an expedient measure.


Economists tell us that in the slave and feudal societies of the past labor costs were nonexistent. They only became a part of production costs when people became conscious of their rights as workers to demand a wage.

People's attitudes toward the exploitation of the environment are undergoing a similar process. But at a time when the public has still not fully grasped the impending environmental crisis, the rights to the environment still seem monopolized by a minority of factories and businesses that wantonly discard wastes, dirty the air, and dump pollutants as they like.

Earlier this century people became aware that if things continued in this way they could end up having a hard time even breathing. They came up with the idea of making polluters pay for the cost of the pollution they were responsible for. With that idea, a struggle over environmental rights, like the earlier one over human rights, became inevitable.

Because adding a bill for pollution control to their costs for capital, labor, and materials meant a pinch in their pocketbooks, businessmen were naturally inclined to fight the idea tooth and nail.

But as pollution created more and more victims and the environmental movement gained steam, taxpayers forced to bear the social costs created by a minority of polluters no longer remained silent and business was forced to give in. Today no one, unless wishing to arouse the public's wrath, would deny that companies must reflect the social costs of the pollution they create in their production costs.

It was in 1974 that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, in the name of fairness in international competition, advocated the principle of "the polluter pays," hoping that polluting companies in countries around the world would add the social costs of creating pollution in their production costs. The principle has also been called an "environmental user fee," since it grew out of the environmental movement.

ROC businessmen paid their first environmental users' fees in 1973, following implementation of the country's first environmental legislation, the Water Pollution Protection Law, which required factories failing to meet standards for waste water discharge to buy water treatment equipment.

Thereafter, as pollution continued to harm the environment and the firms responsible were increasingly the target of public ire, the government raced to establish a series of pollution standards and regulations to force companies to spend more money on pollution control and satisfy the public's demand for a higher quality environment. But many difficulties remain if the social costs of pollution are to be truly reflected as internal costs to the companies that produce it.

Even though the public has not relaxed its pressure and most manufacturers recognize that the polluters pay principle has become a fact of life, many of them still try to think of ways to evade complying and avoid paying the extra costs. They need time to adapt, they say, particularly as they have been accustomed to many privileges granted them in the past with the aim of promoting economic development. In addition, the largest manufacturers, and the biggest polluters, have often used their influence with the relevant government agencies to attain more favorable treatment.

Incentives offered by the Ministry of Economic Affairs to encourage firms to engage in pollution control include tax breaks, financial subsidies, relocation incentives, R&D in pollution control and treatment equipment, pollution control guidance teams. . . . Taken together, the subsidies allow businesses to save up to 60 percent of their pollution costs.

At least one economist feels that subsidizing companies to engage in pollution control with the taxpayer's money not only violates the polluter pays principle but allows companies to promote exports by pricing their products below their true costs, resulting in taxpayers indirectly subsidizing foreign Consumers.

"To the economist's way of thinking, there ideally shouldn't be subsidies at all," says Hsiao Tai-chi, an associate research fellow in the Institute of Economics at Academia Sinica. Discrepancies arise in practice, however. It's the same the world over; the only difference is in degree.

"But in the generosity with which it subsidizes companies to engage in pollution control, our country can be called second to none," Hsiao says. The only subsidies Japan offers are indirect low-interest loans and accelerated depreciation, and many countries take funds for subsidies solely from taxes levied on polluters rather than general tax receipts.

In fact, even if factories manage to comply with existing pollution control standards, many of the social costs they create may still remain unaccounted for, such as the environmental damage caused by discarded plastic products and packaging after sale.

Along with the spread of environmental awareness, the principle of the polluter pays and the concept of environmental users fees will naturally follow. Businessmen in the past could simply buy some land and build a factory. In the future they will have to bear the costs of looking for another site after being turned down again and again, of paying for the preparation of an environmental impact assessment, and of being a good neighbor by helping to improve local public facilities. In fact, a number of domestic makers have already "paid their dues" in just this way.

[Picture Caption]

"If you get it dirty, you clean it up!" With the awakening of environmental consciousness, polluters can no longer ignore the public dangers they ar e creating.

Pollution control equipment should be paid by enterprises as part of the cost of doing business.

Though the sky is blue, how long again before the sea is clear? If polluters don't take preventive measures, it may be hundreds or thousands of years. How is money going to fix that?

The final purpose of production is consumption, so consumers must also bear part of the costs of pollution.

For a limited resource like oil, for every extra liter used now, that's one less liter for the next generation. Because of this, some have suggested that we add "costs to the next generation" to the sales price.

 

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