Three landmark bills to combat climate change were signed into law today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
Governor David Ige signed House Bills 2182, 1986 and 2106 into law, committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045. He was joined by dozens of environmental groups and state department representatives on the windy shore at Point Panic, a popular surfing spot in Kaka’ako. The governor said climate change is real and Hawai’i is already feeling the impacts.
“King Tides have led to severe erosion along our highways. We’ve had a rain event on Kaua’i and O’ahu which was the largest rainfall in a 24-hour period, ever recorded in the history of the United States.”
The new laws establish the Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force, a policy-making body that will enable the state to reach its net-zero carbon emissions goal. One year ago, Hawai’i became the first state to adopt a law aligning itself with the Paris agreement to combat climate change. U.S. Climate Alliance executive director, Julie Cerqueira, says Hawai’i can be the model for the world to follow.
“As we try as a global community to stay within 2 or one-and-a-half degree temperature rise, going carbon neutral is something that is absolutely essential and so, if Hawai’i can be one of the first to figure out how to do that, what that pathway is, it can really help to inform, not only other states but other cities, national governments as to how they can be champions and leaders in this area as well.”
House Bill 2106 creates a carbon off-set program using carbon credits. House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee chair, Representative Chris Lee, says that initiative is already in the works in Hawai’i.
“Airlines around the world are already buying carbon offset credits. What this really opens the door to is investing those dollars right here in Hawai’i. Folks like Hawaiian Airlines, for example, are looking at putting millions of dollars into carbon off-set projects. And, wouldn’t it be great if they can invest that money, reforesting the Big Island or putting money into local agriculture to sequester carbon. So that’s really what we want to see out of this and it’s gonna create jobs and I think be a huge benefit to our local economy in the long run.”
Governor Ige says the 3 new laws open the door to enable the state to achieve its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. But, he says, the state has made great strides in power generation and can now focus on transportation.
“We do have net-zero vehicles today and so, we are making progress. The counties have all committed to carbon neutral kinds of transportation future. Air transportation is one area that we are not making the kind of progress that we are in others. And, so, they definitely will not be able to help with our efforts on climate change, other than investing in projects that increase carbon sequestration or really, really reduce greenhouse gases.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.