Editorial | Our View Green future increasingly in Hawaii’s grasp By Star-Advertiser staff July 12, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. It was encouraging to see Hawaii’s top leadership gathered at the state Capitol auditorium this week to support the Aloha+ Challenge initiative, a set of ambitious goals to make life in Hawaii more sustainable. Aloha+ Challenge, outlined in a non-binding resolution adopted by the Legislature this year, is the latest step in the long and arduous task of bending public policy toward sustainability — that catch-all phrase to define more thoughtful long-term planning for an isolated archipelago. For those familiar with the Hawaii Climate Change Action Plan, the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan, the Hawaii Green Growth initiative and other projects, Aloha+ Challenge may sound like more of the same. But these efforts have not been futile. They have embedded the overarching goals of sustainability into public policy and law. Now it’s hoped that the Aloha+ Challenge action plan, signed with great flourish and ceremony by the governor, the four county mayors and the executive director of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, will lead to ground-level decisions that advance the plan’s goals by its 2030 deadline. After all, the targets are familiar and within reach: » The goal of 70 percent clean energy, including 40 percent from renewable resources and 30 percent from efficiency, is an already-established goal of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. While renewable energy still makes up a minuscule portion of the state’s electricity production — nearly 90 percent from fossil fuels, according to the state Energy Office — demonstrable progress has been shown by the steady growth of alternatives, from solar and wind to geothermal and hydroelectric. » Even though up to 90 percent of our food comes through our ports, there are signs of gradual change. Hawaii consumers already see more local produce available in grocery stores and farmers markets. High-end restaurants aggressively promote their local-source cuisine to locals and visitors. Ensuring that 20 to 30 percent of food consumed in Hawaii is produced locally will require achieving goals already articulated by the state: research and development, better promotion and marketing to create local and foreign demand, improved infrastructure and long-term access to prime agricultural lands. County governments, which have considerable land-use authority, can help turn lofty goals into practical reality. » Reducing the solid waste stream by 50 percent prior to disposal — through recycling, bioconversion or simply creating less waste through more efficient packaging or reuse — requires choices available to everyone. Because counties are primarily responsible for trash collection and disposal, they should have an incentive to encourage these options, especially since the expansion of county landfills is both impractical and controversial. » Natural resource management involves intertwined interests. Protect- ing watersheds encompasses controlling invasive flora and fauna and restoring native species. Community-based marine manage- ment could include the adoption of traditional Native Hawaiian practices. Other goals include smarter built environments with walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and the development of more green-sector jobs. It would be easy to be cynical about Aloha+ Challenge. It can be difficult to square talk of sustainability with the reality of a rapidly urbanized state, with luxury condominiums in Kakaako and new housing developments on fertile West Oahu farmland. But lasting change grows from small steps. Hawaii has already begun to move forward. It will be up to our elected leadership to make sure their day-to-day decisions match their Aloha+ Challenge promises — and for citizens to hold them accountable if they don’t. Previous Story Hanabusa wants clarity while Schatz waffles on Iraq Next Story How affordable should city's apartments be?