Clean energy is coming to the land of luaus and leis. The state of Hawaii has officially taken the Paris Climate Agreement into their own hands, becoming the first state to do so after President Trump’s withdrawal last week from the global renewable power initiative.
On Tuesday, Governor David Ige (D) signed two bills aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere, a bold move which pushes Hawaii into the forefront of America’s green energy movement.
Cutting Ties with Petroleum
Due to its remote location and lack of natural resources, Hawaii has become the nation’s most petroleum-dependent state. With more than 80% of its energy coming from petroleum, emissions are now a concern in this tropical paradise. This huge carbon footprint has left the islands wondering how long their beaches and reefs will last.
Although Hawaii already boasts strict environmental regulation, Senate Bill 559 will be the first to mirror the targets outlined in the Paris agreement and stresses expansion of strategies and mechanisms designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. A Carbon Farming Task Force was created with the passage of Senate Bill 1578 to restore Hawaii’s ability to be self-sustaining through soil and resource improvement.
Both Cities and States are Following Suit
Hawaii’s bills have led several other states to make a move. More than a dozen, including California and Washington, formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, promising to take aggressive action on global warming and implementation of the Paris agreement. California, another alliance member, has committed to a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2030.
Even individual cities are embracing the cause. Chicago has recently implemented a plan mandating renewable energy only in public buildings by 2025. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is currently creating an alliance of more than 40 cities to petition the United Nations for acceptance into the Paris Climate Accord, without the support of the U.S. government.
Legislated Solutions are More Effective than Voluntary Programs
This type of coalition is exactly what the United Nations envisioned when the agreement on global warming was reached. Real change requires local, state, and federal entities to work in concert toward a common goal. Many feared withdrawal from the accord would lessen U.S. efforts toward reducing global warming. Instead, the opposite has happened.
The weakness of the United Nations solution has long been the inability to force regulations and targets on its member nations. But legislated plans such as the one in Hawaii come with enforcement and the possibility of fines and sanctions for those out of compliance. This approach is far more likely to achieve results than a purely voluntary initiative.
The Withdrawal Sparked a Movement
It didn’t happen the way anyone intended, but President Trump’s withdrawal may have provided the exact catalyst necessary to jump start the war on global warming. His action has brought national attention to the cause, and several states are taking advantage of the spotlight to pass strict legislation aimed at cleaning up emissions. With this groundswell of support for global warming initiatives, you can expect even more states to create their own renewable energy policies and greenhouse gas restrictions soon.