Mayors at summit in Honolulu commit to electric vehicles
Dozens of mayors gathered in front of an electric bus at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus Thursday to announce a collaborative commitment to purchasing electric vehicles for their city fleets.
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Dozens of mayors gathered in front of an electric bus at the University of
Hawaii-Manoa campus Thursday to announce a collaborative commitment to purchasing electric vehicles for their city fleets.
More than 50 mayors are in Honolulu for the second annual Climate Mayors Summit at the East-West Center ahead of the U.S. Conference of Mayors 87th Annual Meeting today. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell hosted the one-day summit in partnership with Climate Mayors and C40 Cities.
They announced they would be part of the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, an online portal that provides cities with a single, equal price for EVs and charging infrastructure. Together they committed to purchasing more than 2,100 electric vehicles by the end of 2020.
That commitment includes the purchase of EV transit buses in addition to firetrucks, ambulances, police cars and garbage trucks, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, founder of Climate Mayors. By the end of the year, it will also include transitioning school buses from diesel to electric.
At least 127 cities and 15 counties from 38 states have joined the movement so far.
“Mayors know that the spirit of collaboration is everything,” said Garcetti. “If we’re going to turn the tide on climate change, it has to start with working together. … When the cities of America together say in the next few years we’re going to be buying hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our ports to our airports, our public transportation systems, our police officers, etc., we suddenly become a collaborative that can reduce the price and send a signal to the industry: Make those vehicles now and we will buy them.”
This, he said, was also a message from America’s communities to the federal government demanding action.
Cities, home to over half of the world’s population, account for an estimated 70% of global carbon emissions, according to Climate Mayors. Despite the lack of federal leadership, many cities are taking bold steps to tackle climate change.
Los Angeles recently launched its own “green new deal,” setting aggressive goals to reduce the city’s emissions through renewable energy, zero-waste policies and the creation of green jobs.
Honolulu is committed to changing the city’s fleet of vehicles to 100% renewable fuel sources by 2035. Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties have committed to transforming all of Hawaii’s ground transportation — public and private — to 100% renewable fuel sources by 2045.
The four Hawaii mayors in 2017 made that promise in a proclamation aboard the Hokule‘a, the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s iconic double-hulled canoe which traveled the world spreading a message of sustainability.
“We’re talking about our climate crisis, and I call it a crisis,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell at the summit. “It’s not climate warming, it’s a crisis; and I’ve heard mayor Garcetti call it an emergency. I think every mayor who stands here with us today realizes the issue of our time. We need to take action today, immediately, every day, to solve those problems so 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, we are not spending trillions of dollars to address a problem we could have addressed early on.”
The summit took place just two days after record rainfall and out-of-the-ordinary thunder and lightning over Oahu resulted in flooded roadways, stranded cars and downed trees.
On Tuesday a record rainfall for the date of 4.2 inches was set in Honolulu, breaking the old record of 0.14 inch set in 1994. It was the wettest June day on record in Honolulu. Caldwell attributed the unstable weather to climate change.
Numerous record high temperatures also have been set in the Hawaiian Islands in May and June, surpassing some records from as far back as 1953.
Caldwell said the climate crisis is redefining what it means to be a mayor across the country.
“We are an island, an island chain, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific far away from any other major landmass anywhere in the world, and we buy tons of oil,” he said. “We send our capital out to other places around the world for this oil. We want to keep our money here, keep our environment resilient, and we want to do our part (in) a world that is warming way too fast.”