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Hawaiʻi has a long way to go when it comes to cutting carbon emissions

Infrastructure Growing Gridlock Hawaii traffic carbon emissions cars h1 freeway file photo
Cathy Bussewitz/AP
FILE - In this Friday, June 26, 2015 photo, drivers head into downtown Honolulu from the island's West side. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)

Hawaiʻi may be a small state, but it still has a long way to go when it comes to cutting carbon emissions.

Melissa Miyashiro, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, says Hawaiʻi’s per capita emissions hover around 15 metric tons per year. That’s on par with other states, but it’s three times the global average.

Hawaiʻi as a whole is pouring over 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about every year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The transportation sector is responsible for the majority of the state’s emissions.

"Right now, fossil-based jet fuel is how we power planes. So conversations about sustainable aviation fuels are really exciting," Miyashiro told The Conversation. "We need to be looking closer at that and accelerating that."

"We have a long way to go in Hawaiʻi to decarbonizing our ground transportation sector," she said. "We're a very car-dependent state, a lot of driving and a lot of traffic. Many of our communities aren't built to be pedestrian- or bike-friendly. So these are things that we need to look at when we're looking at our land use planning and our community and city planning efforts. It's all part of this puzzle."

Scientists from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say we need to reduce emissions by over 40% by 2030 to avoid the worst outcomes of global warming.

This interview aired on The Conversation on June 21, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter.
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