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Honolulu Upholding the Paris Climate Agreement

Hawaii air quality ranked one of the cleanest in USA
Hawaii paris climate agreement

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today the release of the City and County of Honolulu’s first Climate Action Plan (CAP), entitled “One Climate: One O‘ahu.” The CAP was developed in partnership with the University of Hawaii and represents a science-based, community-driven strategy for O‘ahu to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045 as required by City ordinance. Adoption of a CAP is also required to remain in the “We Are Still In” and Climate Mayors’ consortiums to uphold the Paris climate agreement. 

“When the current President announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, I was proud to stand next to all three neighbor island mayors and the Governor to let the world know that Hawai‘i was still in,” said Mayor Caldwell.  “Today, I am just as proud to deliver the City and County of Honolulu’s first-ever Climate Action Plan, which turns a commitment into the sail plan we need to navigate to a healthier, more sustainable future for our island.”

Mayor Caldwell serves on the national steering committee of Climate Mayors, a network of over 470 cities across the country that have committed to emission reductions and upholding the Paris climate agreement through significant climate action and policy. There are two requirements for upholding the Paris climate agreement through the Climate Mayors organization: first, to set a goal for carbon emissions reduction; and second, to adopt a community-wide Climate Action Plan. With the unanimous passage of Bill 65 and signing by Mayor Caldwell on December 22, the City is committed by ordinance to a carbon emission reduction target of 100% by 2045. Adoption of a CAP by City Council is the second and final step to meet this commitment.

“In joining the US Climate Change Alliance, the City and County of Honolulu pledged to remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming well below 2 degrees Celsius,” said Councilmember Tommy Waters. “Protecting our island from climate change is our kuleana.”

The CAP was developed by the City’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency in response to requests from both the community and City Council Resolution 18-221, which requested the Administration “to create a Climate Action Plan that establishes comprehensive milestones to transition Oahu to 100 percent renewable energy on the path to carbon neutrality by 2045, or earlier.” The CAP is composed of 9 climate strategies with 46 specific climate actions the City can immediately pursue in the next five years to reduce the island’s greenhouse gas emissions 44% by 2025 to uphold emission reduction targets of the City and the Paris agreement.

“Transitioning to clean energy and sustainable transportation will not only keep us on track with state goals, but will also benefit the resilience, security, and prosperity of our island community,” said Councilmember Brandon Elefante.

The CAP reveals that even though there was a steady decline in emissions between 2005 and 2016, emission levels have started to increase again—rising 0.1% in 2017 and jumping again by 1.8% in 2018. While many assume that emissions are dropping, the data makes clear that strong action to curb O‘ahu’s carbon pollution to the climate crisis is needed.  The three sectors that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions on O‘ahu are ground transportation, building energy use, and emissions related to waste.

The CAP was informed by citizens, specialists, and agencies over the past 18 months. A Climate Action Working Group of 28 experts from business, non-profit, and government sectors helped advise the City, technical and data analysis was conducted by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The original goals of the CAP were directly informed by hundreds of City residents at 12 community meetings held in partnership with Councilmembers across the island who engaged in a “climate game” asking groups to prioritize policy actions. The draft CAP further included feedback from 760 individuals in an island-wide representative survey about climate action and 614 contributors to a virtual open house to accommodate COVID concerns in the summer of 2020.

“Our residents know and understand their communities best, which is why we wanted this climate plan to include their mana‘o from the very beginning,” said Josh Stanbro, the City’s Chief Resilience Officer.  “The actions included in this draft CAP directly reflect the concerns we heard from residents, and we hope they will weigh in again now and provide input to finalize this draft.”

The City invites the public to read the draft CAP and provide comments at www.resilientoahu.org/climate-action-plan . Comments will be accepted until January 30, 2021, and the Resilience Office will hold an online workshop on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 as an additional opportunity for the public to provide their input.  The public can pre-register for the workshop at www.resilientoahu.org/climate-action-plan . Feedback provided online and at the workshop will be used to finalize the CAP, which must then be sent to the Council within 120 days for final approval or disapproval, per requirements set forth in Ordinance 20-47.