Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs to host National Energy Conference Public Engagement on Loomio

Translated from The China Times. Thank you to Audrey Tang and Finjon Kiang!

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C. (MoEA) announced that the National Energy Conference is to be held Jan 26, 27. To follow the trends of collecting voices on the internet in nowadays, MoEA plans pre-conference discussions on the internet between Jan 14 – 20.

They chose Loomio as the platform, for an interactive mode like both the National Conference on Economic and Trade Affairs and the Youth Housing Forum have used. They will collect more comments from the internet as references for the main assembly at the National Energy Conference.

To build consensus around the issues, the MoEA initiated 8 regional deliberations and 3 interest-group deliberations. Wang Yun-Ming, the director of the Bureau of Energy, reported that nuclear issues remained the main contention point during the regional deliberations.

Issues include:

  • The fate of the currently-mothballed Nuclear Plant #4
  • The continued operation of the three existing Nuclear Plants
  • Nuclear waste disposal options and associated costs
  • Other deliberation subjects with considerable interests are
  • The restructuring of Taiwan’s industries
  • Fair pricing of electricity
  • Liberalization of electric power production
  • Legislative efforts toward greenhouse gas reduction
  • Executive efforts toward an energy tax

Wang remarked that before the National Energy Conference there will be a week of discussion during January 14-20 on Loomio forums. The host will set topics for discussion, and participants can freely bring forth their contributions. Moderators will summarize on a day-by-day basis, setting the topics of the next day based on each day’s discussions.

It is reported that when the MoEA hosted the National Energy Conference, top-level Executive officials expressed concerns over the “insufficient amount of listening on the Internet,” compared to Ministry of Education (MoE)’s work on the Youth Housing Forum.

Their main concern is that MoEA’s existing web presence and forums, while open to participation, is somewhat rigid and not sufficiently engaging. The other concern is the omission of special-interest-group style deliberations for in-depth, multi-round discussions, and the officials said MoEA has “a lot to learn” from MoE.

However, the subject of energy policies requires understanding of more specialized, hard-science background materials. With the exception of specialists and activist groups, the common citizens are prone to get “confused.”

Government officials lamented that people are often brainwashed by internet rumors even before the actual policies are communicated. They indicated that it’s the duty of all Executive functions to enhance their communication efforts on internet platforms, as participants uninformed of policy content are unlikely to deliberate well.

Loomio has also played an important part during 2014’s National Conference on Economic and Trade Affairs, where people in all areas of life deliberated on the conference’s contents online. As the succession of that inaugural attempt, the main challenge remains if the higher specialized requirements of the National Energy Conference’s topics would make it more difficult for the online world to deliberate and reach consensus.

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Co-founder of Loomio and a director of Enspiral. Developing cultural and digital technology for collaboration.

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