Roth Reaffirms County’s Commitment to Climate Action
Mayor Mitch Roth reaffirmed this week the county’s commitment to climate action in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions of power plants.
The June 30 ruling of 6-3 ‘in favor’ goes against the nation’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and combat climate change globally. However, the EPA maintains that it has authority to address greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an Associated Press article published earlier this week that the agency “will move forward with lawfully setting and implementing environmental standards that meet our obligation to protect all people and all communities from environmental harm.”
“We remain committed to our goal of fostering a sustainable Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can thrive and succeed for generations to come,” said Mayor Mitch Roth in a press release issued Friday. “Regardless of decisions made on the Federal level, we have the power to take action on a local level, and that’s powerful. As a county, we will continue efforts to shift our fleet to 100% alternative fuel vehicles, pressure the governor to declare an energy emergency to fast-track the PUC and get us closer to our goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, and push forward on our 1t.org pledge to help plant 1 million trees on Hawaiʻi Island before 2030 to help with carbon drawdown and combat global climate change. In addition, we will continue working toward our Climate Action Plan and engaging partners statewide to join our efforts.”
The County of Hawaiʻi Research and Development Climate Action Plan works to identify values, actions, and implement strategies that directly relate to the needs and concerns of Hawaiʻi Island. The County of Hawaiʻi also continues to commit to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and work towards the goal of 100% renewable transportation by 2045 to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Hawaiʻi County’s Climate History
In 2017, Hawai’i County joined the Climate Mayors network to uphold the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hold global warming to 1.5 degrees C, and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that benefits our people’s security, prosperity, and health.
In December 2017, Mayor Kim joined other Hawai’i counties in a pledge to transform transportation by signing a Proclamation of Commitment to 100% Renewable Ground Transportation by 2045. This would ensure that all public and private ground transportation is fueled by renewable energy by 2045.
Additionally, the County of Hawai’i pledged to lead by example and establish a goal of having a 100 percent renewable-powered city fleet by 2035.
In October 2019, the Hawai’i County Council passed Resolution 322-19, declaring a Hawai’i County climate emergency and requesting regional collaboration towards an immediate, just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.
The County of Hawai’i completed the 2015 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory Report in January 2020, which was developed to serve as a basis for understanding emissions trends and where to prioritize reduction efforts in a County Climate Action Plan.
Following the GHG Inventory, the first draft of the County of Hawai’i Climate Action Plan was released for public comment. This document is the next step forward for Hawai’i County to reach its Greenhouse Gas emissions goals and protect our communities health and safety. Implementing the actions and strategies outlined in this plan will enable Hawai’i Island to become more sustainable and self-reliant while embracing its role in mitigating global climate change.
In March 2020, the Hawai’i County Council passed Bill 142 to amend Chapter 2, Article 8, Section 2-37 of the Hawai’i County Code 1983 (2016 edition, as amended), relating to the Department of Research and Development’s Sustainability Action Committee. The amendment includes climate change in the subjects the committee can advise on. It also includes environmental science as a basis on which a member can serve on the committee.
Additionally, the County Council provided more information on the Department of Research and Developments’ alignment with the Sustainability Action Committee.
In July 2020, the County of Hawai’i signed on to the Climate Mayors Congressional Letter delivered to leaders in D.C. advocating a zero-carbon green economy that creates good-paying jobs and prioritizes equity.