Policy Update

Hawaii Leads the Nation Becoming First to Commit to Zero Emissions and Carbon Neutrality

Region

West

NCEL Point of Contact

Clara Summers
Climate and Energy Manager

Contact

Today, June 4, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed two bills into law making Hawaii the first state in the country to legally commit to a zero-emission and carbon-neutral economy by 2045.

“Once again, Hawaii has taken bold action and demonstrated leadership on the most important environmental issue of our time. Governor Ige and the legislature have taken a courageous step forward to protect the health of their constituents that should serve as a model for other states to follow,” said NC Rep. Pricey Harrison, President of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.

The first bill, HB 2182, establishes a zero-emissions carbon target to be achieved by no later than 2045. This target ties into the state’s other goals of achieving 100% renewable energy in the electricity sector and zero-emissions from ground transportation by 2045. The bill also creates a greenhouse gas sequestration task force that will work to identify best practices, policies, and incentives to bolster carbon sequestration efforts in the state.

The second bill, HB 1986, is complementary in that it seeks to establish a state-run carbon offset program to further mitigate carbon emissions. The bill requires the state’s office of planning and the newly created sequestration task force to investigate and establish the offset program. Revenues raised by the program would be directed to enhance mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

“Hawaii is again leading the way! Not only has the state committed to 100% renewable energy by 2045, they have just passed legislation that sets a goal of zero carbon emission by 2045, creates a task force to double down on carbon sequestration and commits that state to joining with other states and countries to implement a carbon offset program,”said Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrator, Director of C-CHANGE (Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Advisor at Pegasus Capital Advisors. “As a devout Red Sox fan, I call this turning a single off the Green Monster into an inside the park home run. I congratulate Governor Ige for recognizing that when the federal government fails to lead on an issue like climate change that threatens our health and our kids future, states and cities must lead the way forward.”

Sponsored by NCEL member Representative Chris Lee, and with the strong support of the Ige Administration, both bills move the goal post and continue the state’s ambitious efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change on Hawaii communities.

“Future generations will see this as a defining moment when visionary state leaders like Representative Chris Lee, Governor David Ige, and their colleagues set a carbon-neutral course for their state, and for the whole country to follow,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “Hawaii is proving that there is much to gain from the transition to renewable energy, and other states are likely to follow its lead.”