Hawaii closer to declaring a 'climate emergency'

Apr. 7—A series of symbolic—but widely supported—climate resolutions, including one declaring a climate emergency, continued to move through the Legislature on Tuesday.

The latest version of Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 would declare a climate emergency and request an "emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate, " among other climate-related resolutions passed by the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. The resolutions already had moved over from the Senate.

"We're facing an existential crises, a climate emergency, " testified Ted Bohlen of Climate Protectors Hawaii.

Although SCR 44 is only a resolution without the force of law, "it's a recognition of symbolic importance, " Bohlen told the committee Tuesday via video. "Secondly, it provides for collaboration statewide for a transition to a cleaner environment. And these are important, even though it's just a resolution."

The resolution has received broad support, including from the state Energy Office, state Office of Planning, members of the Maui and Hawaii County Councils, various environmental and sustainability organizations and several individuals.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection on Tuesday also passed an updated version of SCR 56, which supports "an economic transition that combats climate change and incorporates circular economy goals rooted in aloha aina principles "; and the latest version of SCR 61, which reaffirms Hawaii's "commitment to combat climate change and prioritize climate change legislation."

As of Jan. 26, 1, 864 jurisdictions in 33 countries have declared climate emergencies, according to SCR 44.

This "body acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world, declares a climate emergency, and requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate, " according to the resolution.

It also asks for a ban on public and private investments "in projects that will make the climate emergency worse, such as coal, oil, gas, and tree-burning projects, and redirecting and channeling subsidies toward low climate impact energy projects and workforce retraining."

"Be it further resolved that public and private entities are urged to commit to statewide action that is rooted in equity, self-determination, culture, tradition, and the belief that people locally and around the world have the right to clean, healthy, and adequate air, water, land, food, education, and shelter."