Hawaii becomes first in country to join with Paris agreement goals

HONOLULU — Hawaii was the first in the nation to commit to goals outlined in the Paris agreement Tuesday.

“Regardless of federal action, it is time for states and governors to lead,” said Gov. David Ige.

Ige signed two bills — SB 559 and HB 1578, which bring climate change to the forefront.

Senate Bill 559 expands strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by adopting goals outlined in the Paris agreement.

“Hawaii’s natural environment provides foundation of livelihood, yet it is under threat,” Ige said. “Climate change is real, and Hawaii is seeing it first hand. The coast is eroding, and the weather is more extreme. We must acknowledge these realities.”

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement last week.

Mayors from Kauai, Maui and the Big Island also signed a commitment to follow the goals outlined in the Paris agreement.

Wally Rezentes Jr., managing director of the County of Kauai, represented Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. Carvalho said climate change cannot be ignored.

“We all share responsibility for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, no matter how big or small our communities may be,” he said.

Efforts to reduce emissions and push for clean energy on the Garden Isle include changing streetlights to energy efficient LED bulbs, capturing methane gas at the Kekaha Landfill, and offering more transportation options, Carvalho said.

“Our next major undertaking is to engage our community in the development of a Climate Action Plan,” Carvalho said. “By working together, we can stem the worst impacts of climate change and at the same time assure that our families and businesses thrive.”

House Bill 1578 establishes the Carbon Farming Task Force within the Office of Planning to identify agricultural and aquacultural practices to improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration in the state’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

Both bills were signed into law Friday in Honolulu.

“We have kuleana to malama our island home,” Ige said. “We are one island, one planet. We cannot afford to mess it up. We are setting course to change Hawaii and Earth for the future.”

HB1578 will go into effect on July 1. The task force has to present its preliminary report to the Legislature in 2023.

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