Global warming bill clears Senate

The State Senate yesterday passed a landmark measure to reduce Hawai‘i’s contribution to global climate change. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007 (HB 226) will now go to conference committee to resolve the differences between it and the House version, a version with minor technical differences. The final vote on the measure will likely occur May 1.

“Today’s vote brings us one step closer to reining in our global warming pollution,” said Jeff Mikulina, Director of the Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter, in a press release. “The ‘sustainability Senate’ is, in essence, making a promise to future generations that we are serious about solving this problem.”

The Global Warming Solutions Act is modeled after California’s landmark, bi-partisan effort that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law last September to put in place enforceable limits on global warming pollution. Currently, Hawai‘i has no law on the books limiting the amount of greenhouse gases produced. A host of policies exist to encourage clean energy use, such as tax incentives and renewable energy goals, as well as federal standards on fuel efficiency. But emissions continue apace. Absent clear enforceable caps on emissions, Hawai‘i’s greenhouse gas emissions will reach 25 million tons annually by 2025 according to state estimates.

“We all have a role to play in reducing our ‘carbon footprint,’ from driving less to installing solar at home,” said Mikulina in the release.

Last Friday, the United Nations-established Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.”

Should heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, current scientific consensus predicts a future very different than one to which we are accustomed.

“Over the next three weeks, state lawmakers will be making a historic decision to put enforceable limits on Hawai‘i’s contribution to global climate change,” said Mikulina. “Future generations will remember the leadership and action taken on their behalf.”


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