Just over a year after President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will jettison the Paris climate deal, Hawaii has set the most ambitious climate goal of any state: carbon neutrality in just 27 years.
That goal was outlined in a bill signed Monday, along with a bill to create a carbon offset program and another requiring environmental impact statements for new building projects to consider sea level rise.
For Hawaiians, climate change is no longer a distant threat. “We’re on the forefront of climate change impacts,” Scott Glenn, who heads up Hawaii’s environmental quality office, told Fast Company. “ People feel the trade wind days becoming less. They notice the changes in rain. They feel it getting hotter. Because we are directly exposed to this, there’s no denying it.”
Hawaii has not shied away from its commitment to climate action. Last year, it was the first state to adopt a law to keep its emissions in line with the Paris agreement. By 2045, the state expects to reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy, according to Climate Change News.
House bill 2182 aims to achieve carbon neutrality by that same year. It also sets up a “greenhouse gas sequestration task force” that works towards policies that can further curtail carbon emissions. The bill cites an estimated $19 billion in state-wide economic losses due to creeping sea levels brought on by climate change.
House bill 1986, also signed on Monday, creates a carbon offset program to help the task force meet its target. House bill 2106 requires environmental assessments prior to new building projects to include the impacts of sea level rise, a measure which Hawaii’s Governor David Ige refers to as “just plain common sense” given how vulnerable buildings near the coastline are, per Hawaii News Now.
Ige took to Facebook after signing the bills: “Climate change is real and we’re seeing its impacts right now in our island state. Taken together, this suite of bills establishes policies and programs that acknowledge and address this reality.”
At least someone’s acknowledging reality these days.