VOICES: Climate emergency declared in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i has become the first state to declare a climate emergency, joining 1,864 jurisdictions in 33 countries which have already done so.

The Hawai‘i Resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 44, requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate emergency mobilization effort and just transition to restore a safe climate.

The resolution outlines the impacts and empirical evidence of the climate crisis and what must be done to restore a more-livable planet. It warns, 13,784 scientists from 156 countries have signed a declaration, unequivocally affirming that ‘“planet Earth is facing a climate emergency” and it will now take “an immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere to avoid untold suffering,” and emphasizes the impacts it will have on Hawai‘i.

The resolution encourages all state entities to 1) decarbonize the economy with clean energy and quality jobs with the financial and regulatory assistance; and 2) invest in electric vehicles, energy efficiency, reforestation, climate-smart agriculture and land use at the necessary scale and speed.

The resolution was passed almost unanimously, approved by all four Kaua‘i legislators.

State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, who represents the North Shore and Eastside, said,”We should all do our part to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, promote green jobs as we diversify our economy, promote smart growth, convert our fleet to electric vehicles and reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on our roads.”

She also supported Senate Bill 932, which establishes the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund for clean-energy investments, and House Bill 552, requiring the state Department of Transportation to achieve 100% light-duty, motor-vehicle, zero-emission fleet by 2035, as reported earlier in The Garden Island.

State Rep. Dee Morikawa, who represents Ni‘ihau, the Westside and portions of the South Shore, said, “Our state, nation, and the entire world are facing many critical issues, but none more important to the future of our island home and families than reversing the escalating climate crisis.

“The Legislature this session passed SCR 44 to declare a climate emergency and build a statewide collaboration toward immediate efforts to restore a safe climate. We need everyone from the state and county levels, to businesses, organizations and individuals, working together to change the way we use energy and pollute our planet.”

There was no response from state Senate Persident Ron Kouchi, who represents all of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, nor state Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, who represents the Lihu‘e area and portions of the Eastside and South Shore.

Unfortunately, other actions taken by the Legislature this session do not show that our legislators understand the steps needed to help avert this emergency.

Few bills were passed that addressed the pathway to eliminate our use of fossil fuels, support the electrification of our transportation system, decrease visitor flights, make state buildings more efficient and sequester carbon with land-use practices. Of those bills that did pass, none were at the scale and speed necessary to truly tackle the climate crisis.

Here are some of the bills that did pass (but still require Gov. David Ige’s signature) to help address the climate emergency:

• 100% of state vehicles electric by 2031 (cars) 2036 (trucks);

• State rental fleet preference for electric vehicles;

• Electric-vehicle charging stations for new facilities, with county enforcement;

• Low-interest loans for purchase of energy-efficient measures;

• State Department of Land and Natural Resources nurseries to grow green infrastructure;

• Property sellers’ disclosure for sea-level rise;

• State agencies to purchase more food from local farmers, and public schools to purchase at least 30% locally by 2030;

• Remove cap on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps)purchases of local produce;

• More trees on school campuses;

• Cuts to Hawai‘i Tourism Authority budget.

We need bolder, braver and more-binding legislation if we are to meet Hawai‘i’s net zero goal. We know we need to keep fossil fuel in the ground. Solar and other clean alternatives have accelerated so quickly over the last few years, making this possible.

We need to electrify our transportation system, another realistic goal at present for ground transportation. Thirdly, we need to drawdown, sequester carbon with better land-use practices, such as regenerative local agriculture, planting trees and plants, composting, and hundred of other measures.

Hawai‘i Island and Maui counties declared their own climate emergencies in 2019, but Kaua‘i has yet to do so. Maui has a special committee on climate change that last month introduced a moratorium, that is being debated, on new visitor accommodations for West and South Maui. The purposes of the moratorium are to lower carbon-emissions levels, mitigate climate-change impacts and limit the rate of global warming by pausing visitor-accommodation development and the related increase in tourism. The pause would prevent additional air, noise, light, land and water pollution until the county updates the West Maui and South Maui community plans. There has been strong community support for the moratorium.

A recent presentation by climate expert and University of Hawai‘i-Manoa Professor of Earth Sciences Dr. Chip Fletcher is an up-to-date and sobering look at the current and future impacts of climate change. You can view it at youtube.com/watch?v=GNayVagJhUo.

When asked what individuals can do to help in this climate crisis, Fletcher’s immediate response was to get informed and vote. We need legislative action and leaders who are knowledgeable in the root causes of the climate crisis and willing to take bold action.


The Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition meets the third Monday of every month at 5 p.m. Email kauaiclimate@gmail.com for the Zoom link or for more information. Members are encouraging others to be part of the conversation and the solution.

  1. RGLadder37 May 30, 2021 12:40 am Reply

    Plant more trees. Make the island look like Hanalei. Turn this island into a forest. Then you see it. It will look like greenery and just about every one in the country will be at awe with Kaua’i. A green island. And it will have no brown or dry spots to it. Watch this island change. Also watch tourism go up by leaps. Where do we get more trees? South Africa. It won’t run out.

  2. Mark May 30, 2021 3:03 am Reply

    Great, China and India and Russia are all on board 100% to right?

    1. X June 1, 2021 10:26 am Reply

      I’m not protecting my house against fire until all my neighbors do.

  3. Miceli May 30, 2021 6:02 am Reply

    United Nations Agenda for the 21st Century.
    The 4th Industrial Revolution
    The Great Reset
    The Green New Deal
    Anyway you word it
    Does the exact opposite.
    This is the Wrong Kind Of GREEN

  4. Dude May 30, 2021 6:59 am Reply

    Power went out for most of last night here on North Shore, as happens at least 3 times a month. Glad I have a gas burning vehicle. Only crisis we have is a crisis of understanding that there is no climate crisis!

    1. Steve Parsons May 31, 2021 9:48 am Reply

      Dude! Your ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) Helps to cause more power outages and waiting will cost more. FFuel pollution Kills over 8 mil a year. How are you ok with that!?! https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottcarpenter/2021/02/10/fossil-fuel-air-pollution-kills-nearly-as-many-as-cancer-study-finds/?sh=51e4c6c31db

  5. John Patt May 30, 2021 7:31 am Reply

    The state can also help with climate change by funding the design of a Materials Resource Facility. The price is $450,000, and will allow us to proceed with curbside recycling which will go a long way to combatting climate change.

  6. John Patt May 30, 2021 7:46 am Reply

    Cutting funds for tourism is popular, but it is the GET and TAT taxes that help fund all of the other efforts to combat climate change.

  7. RG DeSoto May 30, 2021 8:13 am Reply

    Climate “crisis”? What utter nonsense.
    These chatterers act as if the earth’s climate is supposed to be something stagnant and unchanging through time…at some ideal spot of their liking. The geologic history of 4 billion year-old earth shows this to be a blatant misrepresentation designed to gin up more fear and render people compliant to the progressive anti-capitalist, anti-liberty agenda. This agenda is a proscription for societal disaster, drastically reduced standards of living and more state control of our lives.
    Is there no recollection that the earth has gone through radical , repeating cycles of glaciation and warming for hundreds of millions of years? Of course there is no remembering, thanks to the pitiful education system that renders ignorant people (even so called professors, like Fletcher) incapable of critical thinking and all too ready to listen to the gaggle of “experts” who only care about their political agenda which is on full display in articles like this that offer irrational “solutions”. Like “electrifying” everything…this of course shows they only care about control and have no comprehension that they are merely shifting the source of their nemesis, CO2, from automobiles to power plants. We economists refer to this shifting as externalizing the effects of an action.
    Stop worrying…there is no climate crisis. Only a crisis of credibility.
    RG DeSoto

    1. truthbeknown May 30, 2021 4:48 pm Reply

      RG, China, India and Russia have no intention of playing along with our “Sky is Falling” routine. While we invest trillions of dollars on our “Green New Deal”, covering our country and our island with solar panels and wind turbines, they are building thousands of cheap coal fired electric plants to power their industrial growth at a fraction of the cost. While we continue to pay the highest electrical rates in the country here on Kauai, they will be paying 10 cents per kilowatt. If Kawakami demands all electric vehicles by 2030, that will put a huge strain on our already iffy electric grid. Better get a bicycle or a horse! Or better yet, we should invest in the latest second generation nuclear power plants to give us continual, uninterrupted power at 12 cents per kilowatt with zero emissions. Watch the movie “Pandora’s Promise” to be enlightened.

      1. Sonja May 31, 2021 2:25 pm Reply

        This section is an excerpt from Energy policy of China
        “Ensuring adequate energy supply to sustain economic growth has been a core concern of the Chinese government since 1949.The country is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and coal in China is a major cause of global warming. However, from 2010 to 2015 China reduced energy consumption per unit of GDP by 18%, and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 20%. On a per-capita basis, it was the world’s 51st largest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2016”
        This paragraph is an excerpt from Renewable energy in China
        “China is the world’s leading country in electricity production from renewable energy sources, with over double the generation of the second-ranking country, the United States. By the end of 2019, the country had a total capacity of 790GW of renewable power, mainly from hydroelectric, solar and wind power.
        By the end of 2019, China’s hydropower capacity reached 356 GW. China’s installed capacity of solar power reached 252 GW and wind power capacity was 282 GW, as of 2020. China’s renewable energy sector is growing faster than its fossil fuels and nuclear power capacity. ”

        In late March 2020, Russia presented a long-term strategy on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country also agreed on the aims and goals of the Paris Agreement in 2016, meaning that the rise in global average temperature should be kept way below 2 °C (3.6 °F). Just last month Putin calls for Russian greenhouse gas emissions to be lower than EU’s.

        India is one of the few countries on track to meet its Paris target. India has already reduced emissions intensity by 21%. India aims to install an ambitious 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. India already has 90 GW or renewable energy, representing 24% of total installed capacity.

        1. truthbeknown June 4, 2021 4:38 pm Reply

          Sonja, There are over 1,116 new coal fired plants either under construction or planned in the near future around the world. The distribution of them is overwhelmingly Russia, China and India. If these countries profess to be on board with the “Green New Deal” program, then there appears to be a wide gap between what they say versus what they actually do. China does have massive hydro-electric programs underway which is a good thing, as well as nuclear plants. My point is that all 3 of them are also are building numerous coal fired plants as well.

    2. Sonja May 31, 2021 2:13 pm Reply

      So you are saying scientists and top universities and governments in US, Europe , China, Russia, and India are conspiring to make up an imaginary climate crises, and Trump, Fox news and Breitbart were telling the truth all along?

      And you are saying that 62% of Kauai’s electricity do not come from renewable resources?

      And you are saying my car that gets 170 miles per gallon equivalent is as polluting as your truck?

    3. RGLadder37 June 1, 2021 10:22 pm Reply

      With Sonja. China has a major pollution problem. Aside from having a communist form of government. Where the means of production or materials used in production, are owned by no one. Meaning they don’t go by money. They do not go by state as in democracy. They go by something else. The real owners are the military who steal all the goods from the already owners, and just take whatever there is. The claim that global warming exist, only stems from a more scientific approach. Rise in temperature, unhealthy people dying, and unsolved environmental activities that always occur. The only way to get rid of nuclear waste is to stop using it. Las Vegas, Nevada, are full of nuclear chemicals just so the community can be lit up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We all condone this, because we all like Las Vegas, Nevada. And this will continue to go on. Is there a problem with the setup? Yes and no. Yes because it produces a lot of waste products that are unhealthy for the community or society. No, because we as a whole, pay for these kinds of activities like Las Vegas, to occur. What do you intend to do about it? Nothing. Why? Because I too, choose to participate in these activities as in Las Vegas, Nevada, and pay for the service.

  8. therealhawaiian May 30, 2021 9:48 am Reply

    Blah, blah, blah. Yawn. Blah, blah, blah.

    1. Steve Parsons May 31, 2021 9:52 am Reply

      Note to the public here: Can you spot the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) !?! It’s a classic strategy that Big Tobacco used that has been adopted by the F. Fuel industry. Well documented in the book “Merchants of Doubt”.

  9. John Patt May 30, 2021 4:07 pm Reply

    RG, the climate has changed, but not this fast. If you jump in your truck in the morning and go from 0 to 50 in a few seconds, that’s about normal. But if you go from 0 to 500 in the same few seconds, you have a problem, and so do we.

  10. Ehhmmmm May 30, 2021 5:24 pm Reply

    By operating a non profit that will benefit financially directly from you saying we are in a climate crisis to get more funding. You lose all credibility. It so obvious where your priorities are. Are you a climate crisis cultist???

  11. Kaua’i Tutu May 31, 2021 6:39 am Reply

    While you professors and excellent researchers and politicians are at it, would you please get rid of the Biting Gnats, Termites and stop the volcano from eruptIng.
    I would be so grateful

  12. Steve Parsons May 31, 2021 9:59 am Reply

    Another Great Article by KCAC, Spot on way to go!

  13. YuCalJoe May 31, 2021 12:37 pm Reply

    Hey look everybody! We can call this tax and cost of living increase a “Climate Emergency”! Hope they never find out the truth!

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