COP26: Hawaii wins praise for action in climate crisisPosted on Nov 29, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Pledges are easy; achieving them is a lot harder. But on a world stage such as last month’s COP26, the UN climate change conference in Scotland, Hawai‘i was recognized for producing real results as a leader in the climate change effort. Governor Ige and a delegation of environmental advocates showed how a small island state like Hawai‘i can move the world with innovation, big ambition and action. Governor Ige emphasized, “We in the islands feel this sense of urgency about the climate crisis. In Hawai‘i, reversing climate change is critical to preserving our way of life and unique biodiversity and culture. That’s why we became the first state in the nation to embrace the 2015 Paris climate agreement in law. We also led the way in announcing a state goal of 100 percent renewable energy for electricity by 2045. We showed in Scotland that island communities matter, and Hawai‘i has an important leadership role to play at the ’super-national’ level. ”
As part of the 25-governor U.S. Climate Alliance, Hawai‘i has committed to specific, new High-Impact Actions in priority areas, including power, transportation, equity, resilience, natural and working lands and the social cost of greenhouse gases. A list of what Hawai‘i is working toward and the state’s Climate Commission progress, highlighted at the summit by co-chair Suzanne Case, can be viewed at https://climate.hawaii.gov/hi-mitigation/goals-and-progress/. Major initiatives to prepare for a “Climate Ready Hawai‘i” include:
- Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative – Under the Ige administration, the state has already surpassed its 2020 goal by generating 34.5% of renewable electricity through a combination of solar, wind and other clean energy sources — with a goal of 100% by 2045. In the past, Hawai‘i has been the nation’s most fossil fuel-dependent state but now is becoming a green energy leader.
- Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative – The action plan, announced by the governor in 2016, provides a framework for the islands’ natural resource management. The progress covers protection of the state’s watersheds, nearshore ocean waters, local food production, renewable energy and Hawai‘i’s first Interagency Biosecurity Plan to control invasive species.
- State joins One Trillion Trees movement – The state has pledged to conserve, restore and grow 100 million trees in Hawai‘i by 2030 — part of a worldwide effort to achieve net-negative carbon goals and encourage carbon sequestration.
- Nature-based solutions for transportation, jobs and sustainable communities – The governor and the state legislature have made state electric vehicles a priority, provided for more EV charging systems and are pursuing other carbon-smart practices, including conversion of aviation and marine transportation. See the public recommendations at https://hawaii2050.hawaii.gov.
During the summit, CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria said, “Hawai‘i transformed itself from relying on fossil fuels to leading on renewables by instituting laws and rules to encourage the shift. Now we need to scale the Hawai‘i example for the entire world — and fast.”