R&D Collaborates to achieve local, state, national, and international targets for achieving climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.
The 2017 Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report demonstrates that sea level rise will threaten the safety, resources, and infrastructure of coastal community in Hawaiʻi County. The Report estimates that Hawaiʻi County will lose $430 million due to infrastructure and land loss (not including public facilities), in part because 20% of the areas forecasted to be inundated are urban. Likewise, climate change is forecasted to increase the severity of hurricanes and flooding.
Climate change impacts will affect the most vulnerable ecosystems (forests and marine), key economic sectors (agriculture, fishing and transportation), and populations with some of the highest poverty rates, lowest median income and highest socio-economic needs.
See the Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Portal for more information about climate change in Hawaiʻi. Additional information about climate change and its impacts is available in the Fourth National Climate Assessment and the 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
County of Hawaiʻi Climate Action: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation & Climate Change Adaptation
Mayor Kim understands and supports the County's state-mandated obligation to transition to 100% renewable power generation and net carbon neutrality by 2045. He has joined the mayors of the other three counties in committing to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and in establishing a goal of 100% renewable transportation by 2045.
Mayor Kim also recognizes the critical need to build resiliency against the adverse effects of climate change like seal level rise, severe storms, drought, rising air and sea temperatures, and other impacts that threaten ecosystems, infrastructure and economic systems.
Department of Research & Development Climate Action
Mayor Kim asked the Department of Research and Development to coordinate the development and implementation of climate change strategies with other County agencies and external partners. To do that, R&D draws on resources available through local, national, and international sustainability networks as well as the expertise of a growing "Climate and Resilience Team." That team within R&D currently includes the Deputy Director, the County's Energy Specialist, the Department's Sustainable Development Coordinator, an AmeriCorps*VISTA Climate Change Specialist, and Energy Solutions and Transportation Solutions VISTA members.
Specific R&D initiatives related to climate change include:
- The Department just completed the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for 2015 which was developed to serve as a basis for understanding emissions trends and where to prioritize reduction efforts in a County Climate Action Plan.
- Develop and implement a Climate Action Plan aligned with the County's GHG targets.
- Partner with Hawaiʻi Energy to maximize energy efficiency and cost savings in County facilities.
- Collaborate to advance the electrification of transportation as a member of Drive Electric Hawaiʻi and the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaiʻi.
- Intervene in related dockets of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), like Integrated Grid Planning, Electrification of Transportation, and Performance-Based Ratemaking.
- Represent the County on the state Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force, which is exploring economic opportunities in carbon markets.
Other County Climate Action
Several other departments are also leading climate change initiatives and are part of the County's "Climate and Resilience Team." To reduce GHG emissions, the Mass Transit Agency is pursuing grant funding to pilot zero emission buses (ZEBs), the Department of Public Works is advancing the adoption of an updated energy code, and the Department of Water Supply has staff and a program devoted to energy conservation, efficiency, and cost reduction.
To advance climate planning, the Planning Department is integrating climate change adaptation strategies into the General Plan, and the Planning Director represents the County on the State Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission. Likewise, the Civil Defense Agency plans to incorporate climate adaptation strategies into the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. From there, it is likely that climate adaptation measures will be implemented through the flood control, subdivision, and zoning codes as well as the coastal zone management and the capital improvements programs.
The first draft of the County of Hawaiʻi Climate Action Plan is available for review. The public is invited to provide comments. Comments may be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 31, 2020.
This document is the next step forward for Hawaiʻi County to reach its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions goals, and to protect the health and safety of our communities. Implementing the actions and strategies outlined in this plan will enable Hawaiʻi Island to become more sustainable and self-reliant, while playing its role in mitigating global climate change.
During these time of preventative steps taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many are noticing the impact that human behavior has on nature. The County estimates it will see a drop of 1,482,319.546 MTCO2, or a 42% reduction, in total emissions due to the decrease in air travel and vehicle miles due to stay-at-home and social distancing measures.
In addition to mitigating GHG emissions, the plan also aims for Hawaiʻi Island to produce all of its energy demand domestically and through renewable alternative to fossil fuels; provide clean and accessible public mobility; encourage zero waste behavior; and expand conservation and preservation of natural areas. The Climate Action Plan increases the County's commitment to deliver equitable solutions to improving our community's health, wellness, and economic resiliency.
The Climate Action Plan will continue to be updated and improved to reflect the values and priorities of our community as we reach our goals. Please share your manaʻo on this important initiatives.