Jan. 10—Gov. Josh Green kicked off Hawaii's Climate Action Week on Monday pledging to dedicate $100 million of the state's $1.9 billion budget surplus to address climate change.
Gov. Josh Green kicked off Hawaii's Climate Action Week on Monday pledging to dedicate $100 million of the state's $1.9 billion budget surplus to address climate change.
Green's announcement was applauded by speakers, attendees and online viewers monitoring the Climate Action Week panels and events.
"I am a little gobsmacked, I'll have to say—that was a huge announcement, " said state Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Coordinator Leah Laramee. "I just really appreciate your time, Gov. Green, being here, joining us and highlighting the importance of all the work that the folks in this room are doing. It's just really amazing and incredible."
The size of the state's budget surplus, under Green's budget proposal, would grow to $2.8 billion through the end of 2024.
"This is what you will hear me say in two weeks : You will hear me say we will push to take $100 million of that surplus and devote it to climate impact, " Green said at the start of Hawaii's State Climate Conference at the East-West Center.
Green is scheduled to present his first State of the State address on Jan. 23, following opening day of the legislative session on Jan. 18.
He called his proposal the "beginnings of an era where we have a green impact."
"I will seed $100 (million ) into a place that can then be magnified, it can grow, so that it'll help balance as we also mitigate climate change, " Green said.
The money also is intended for projects that are sensible and decrease carbon admissions, Green said.
Other speakers cited the importance of trees, environmental education and maintaining shorelines.
The first session of Monday's conference highlighted how Hawaii's young people and kupuna can benefit from environmental education.
The Malama Learning Center's executive director, Pauline Sato, said it provides hands-on, place-based education for students, teachers and community members, primarily in West Oahu. The center's Ola Na Kini program brings in children to work with public and private landowners to help conserve land. The program also operates two nurseries.
"At any one time we might be growing about 10, 000 plants of about 25 different species, mostly native to Hawaii, " Sato said.
Another session focused on "adaptation and resilience options " for Hawaii's shorelines.
Dolan Eversole—who is with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program—said possible solutions include "coastal armoring, " and preservation through sand management and beach restoration.
Multiple solutions should be considered, Eversole said, because "if you wage war with water, you will lose."
The conference also included climate issues likely to come before the state Legislature.
State Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Ewa-Kapolei-Makakilo ) said his top priorities include a visitor impact fee backed by Green, a carbon cash-back bill, green infrastructure and healthy soil.
"Your voice really matters, so please send in your testimony of climate-related bills, " Gabbard said. "Especially you young folks."
State Rep. Nicole Lowen (D, Kailua-Kona-Honokohau ) and Melissa Miyashiro, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, also participated.
Monday's conference included a Youth Climate Summit at the UH law school auditorium. Other events during Climate Week include a discussion on Pacific island women at the United Nation's climate change conference, known as COP27, and the 20th anniversary of the Hawaii energy policy forum.
Green, a father of school-age children, said, "From this moment forward we are bounded together for good or ill, to make change, to deal with this fever that is affecting our whole planet, so that it doesn't affected the next generation of children that are to come."
LEARN MORE—For more information about Hawaii's Climate Action week, visit.