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Local organizations pledge to track and curb emissions. What will make the promise stick?

downtown honolulu file photo
Sophia McCullough
FILE - Downtown Honolulu fronted by Aloha Tower Marketplace

Local organizations big and small are banding together to curb emissions.

The Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative has formed a new Climate Coalition consisting of businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and all four Hawai‘i counties.

Coalition members have pledged to track and reduce their carbon emissions — and make that information available to each other and the public. The emissions data will be self-reported.

In addition to the usual players like the Blue Planet Foundation and Elemental Excelerator, there are also companies with more complicated climate legacies such as PAR Hawaii, Alaska Airlines and Alexander & Baldwin.

Jeff Mikulina, the former head of the Blue Planet Foundation and a member of the coalition, said close collaboration will keep some 30 member organizations on track.

"People can sign this pledge and put it on the shelf and forget about it. So we definitely want to make sure we have a platform where they're sharing not just for that kind of accountability and transparency, but also so organizations can learn from other organizations," Mikulina said. "And I do think there's an effect."

Chris Benjamin, CEO of Alexander & Baldwin and the coalition chair, acknowledged his company's complicated legacy with the environment and water rights.

"We've also been involved in businesses that have not been entirely environmentally friendly. As we move forward, we are now purely a commercial real estate company. And so what I have said to our team for many years now is that we have to define our legacy," he told HPR.

"We have to define our environmental activity and stewardship in the context of the business we're in now," Benjamin said. "We have to focus on what do our shopping centers, our industrial properties contribute to the climate landscape."

Alexander & Baldwin’s 2021 corporate report calculated its total annual emissions at just under 59,000 metric tons.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 26, 2023. 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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