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Honolulu City Council votes to adopt first Climate Action Plan

  • 2021 January 2. Pool photo by George F. Lee
Honolulu City Council member Tommy Waters spoke to the limited audience prior to the swearing in ceremony for the newest members of the Honolulu City Council, Saturday, Jan, 2.

    2021 January 2. Pool photo by George F. Lee Honolulu City Council member Tommy Waters spoke to the limited audience prior to the swearing in ceremony for the newest members of the Honolulu City Council, Saturday, Jan, 2.

Honolulu passed the city’s first-ever Climate Action Plan today, and it joins more than 9,000 cities around the world that have done the same.

In a unanimous vote, the Honolulu City Council passed a resolution to adopt the 2020-2025 One Climate One Oahu Climate Action Plan for the City and County of Honolulu to reduce Oahu’s greenhouse emissions to commit to the Paris climate agreement to reach carbon neutrality by 2045. The plan was created in response to another City Council resolution passed in 2018.

Prior to 2045, Honolulu would commit to cutting its carbon pollution by 45% by 2025 and 60% by 2035.

“We are already seeing, first-hand, the impacts of climate change on Oahu. We never had 90-degree temperatures when I was growing up, but now, for the temperature to hit 90-degrees or higher is common during the summer,” said Tommy Waters, chairman of the City Council, in a statement. “If we’re going to be able to continue to live and thrive in Hawaii, we have got to implement climate solutions now.”

The plan is science-based and community-driven and includes nine strategies and 47 actions for the city to implement over the next five years. They include, “electrifying ground transportation and increasing walking and biking,” “encouraging more density and mixed land use,” increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy” and “reducing the amount of solid waste on Oahu.”

Electricity generation produces 35% of Oahu’s carbon pollution, while cars and trucks produce 20%.

“The good news is that addressing climate change can also improve the quality of life for residents in my community,” said Radiant Cordero, chairwoman of City Council’s Transportation, Sustainability and Health Committee, in a statement. “Whether it’s saving on our electricity bills or cooling our streets with trees, doing the right thing for the planet is also the right thing in our neighborhoods.”

Carbon emissions on Oahu stabilized in 2016 and 2017 but increased in both 2018 and 2019, according to the city’s 2021 Annual Sustainability Report. The 16.2 million tons emitted in 2019 were the highest in five years, and the average person on Oahu produces twice as much carbon emissions than the global average.

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