County announces climate action plan

LIHUE — Kauai might just be a speck in the ocean when compared with the size of the rest of the world, but her people have just as much power as everyone else when it comes to changing Earth’s climate.

The key is to get organized, according to Ben Sullivan with Kauai’s office of economic development, and the county is proposing to do that by creating a climate action plan.

“We can say hey, we’re Kauai and we’re too small to matter, but anyone can say that,” Sullivan said at Thursday’s Lihue Business Association at Duke’s. “We just have to be hungry for the changes we need to make as a community.”

The plan is being proposed in the budget and isn’t even in the beginning stages of drafting yet, but Sullivan explained the purpose behind the plan is to strategically target ways to reduce the island’s carbon footprint.

The plan would begin in the fall and would establish goals for emission reduction in the next five years. After that, the plan would be updated.

“Plans have a bad reputation for being expensive and then just sitting on a shelf, but without a plan, it’s easy to wallow,” Sullivan said.

He explained action in the first year of the plan would be focused on gathering information on emissions by various sectors – like electricity, transportation, and the tourism industry.

In the second year, the plan is to dive into each sector, talk with stakeholders and generate ideas on how to reduce emissions and promote a greener way of life on Kauai.

Some of the options already being considered with transportation are wrapped up in the multimodal transportation plan – like increasing the walkability and bikability of the towns on Kauai, and increasing the service area of the bus system.

The county is also looking at ways to use the methane gas emissions from the Kekaha landfill to power their buses, but Sullivan said that’s also in the beginning stages and is a complicated proposition.

“It’s past time for us to champion this,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to take a lot for us to reach our goals, but you get there by thinking about it, not by ignoring it.”


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