From the governor: Urgency into action for Hawai’i’s future

Posted on Apr 24, 2018 in Featured

From the governor: Urgency into action for Hawai’i’s future

As the only island state in the nation, Hawai‘i is already feeling the impact of climate change. It’s part of our everyday reality in the face of “king tides,” sea level rise and threatened watersheds and shorelines. The good news is the Ige administration is turning urgency into action as Hawai‘i grapples with balancing conservation and growth. This issue and future issues will talk about what Governor David Ige, his team and a network of community partners are doing to protect our resources and lead the way to a cleaner,“greener” future.

A mom and her daughter send their own message about the Earth reducing its carbon footprint.

Q. Do you think people are taking climate change seriously?
A. I think people are realizing more and more that global warming is real. The Hawai‘i Climate Commission’s statewide report (see story on Page 2) gives us maps and a visual sense of what a 3.2-foot sea level rise would mean for different communities. That awareness is the first step. Their report, which I urge everyone to read online, provides a basis for some very, very tough decisions on every island involving our economy and our state’s long-term future.

Q. Why have you prioritized watershed protection among your budget requests?
A. Watershed protection is essential to our survival because the trees capture the fresh water that replenishes our aquifers. Many people don’t appreciate the hard work and capital investment it takes to protect our forests. We’re halfway to our goal of protecting 30 percent of our priority watersheds statewide, but we need more support at many levels. We also need to continue to work with private landowners through our watershed partnerships, and we’re seeking companies that want to invest in the environment.

Q. Is the state on track to meet its clean energy goals?

The governor attended an electric bus demonstration by the state Department of Transportation for possible airport-rental car shuttle service.

A. Yes, we’re actually ahead of schedule in delivering 100 percent clean energy for electricity by 2045. Renewable energy now accounts for about 27 percent of utility electricity sales in the state, so our interim goal of 30 percent by 2020 is definitely within reach. More renewable energy projects coming online means less fossil fuel and greenhouse gases that increase global warming. Setting these goals, as I did in our Sustainable Hawai‘i initiative, is important because it focuses the state’s long-term plans. It’s about action, not just talk. (For more details, see www.transcendingoil.com.)

Q. Why was it important for Hawai‘i to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement and join the U.S. Climate Alliance? Why is sustainability for the state personally important to you?
A. It’s about exerting local leadership, especially when the Trump administration has taken alarming steps backward in environmental protection. Clearly, the rest of the world agrees that climate change is real, and it’s up to the nation’s governors to lead. Being the first state to align with the goals of the Paris Accord demonstrates that Hawai‘i can lead by example. I’m proud to be governor of a state that understands we have to leave things better for the next generation.

Read more in May Capitol Connection newsletter