Photo: Governor Abercrombie fired up on climate change
Monday night Governor Abercrombie brought together leaders from government agencies, private business and environmental organizations at his historical mansion to learn about and discuss climate change.
The Governor announced that at that very time on the mainland, the national task force on which he served with 7 other governors and local and tribal leaders, was just finishing their final report with recommendations to the President, and that report was heavily influenced by Hawaii’s plan. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/task_force_report_0.pdf
Basically, he said, when the task force came together Hawaii was the only State with a well developed plan. “Navigating Change” outlined initiative already underway in Hawaii, and several of those made their way into the final national recommendations.
With all the problems we have here in Hawaii, it is scary to hear we are as good as it gets. People can’t connect their solar panels to the grid, since the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has not invested in storage capacity. Our painfully limited agricultural land is being rezoned for development. It is easy to focus on the problems we want to fix.
But let’s focus on achievements that give us hope.
- In 2007, Act 234 require statewide emissions reductions to levels at or below 1990 levels by 2020.
- In 2008, the State of Hawai‘i and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) with the goal of 70% Clean Energy by 2030 (40% via renewable, 30% via efficiency).
- In 2010, Hawaii passed Act 73 and became the first in the nation to put a barrel tax on petroleum.
- In 2011, The Rain Follows the Forest Watershed Initiative was launched to manage and protect native forests and watersheds.
- In 2012, Act 286 codified into law the state’s Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines. These focus on resiliency in agriculture, conservation lands, coastal and marine areas, education, health, transportation, and the built environment.
- In 2013, Hawaii was the first sub-national government to sign the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, joining other islands and nations that committed to reduce carbon emissions and invest in adaptation
Of course there are challenges to overcome. For example, The Rain Follows the Forest Watershed Initiative is funded at only 5%.
Abercrombie was pretty emotional when he stated that another challenge was the “left wing environmentalist tea party” that whines about HECO rather than working with them to get things done. HECO has a open-ended monopoly in Hawaii and is a for profit enterprise accountable to share-holders, not voters.
HECO top executives were in the room. The presentations were compelling, and I only hope HECO execs love their children too.