Hawaii first state to enact 100% carbon neutral goal
- Hawaii has set perhaps the most ambitious emissions reduction goal of any state — reaching carbon neutrality by 2045, in part through reforestation efforts.
- Gov. David Ige on Monday signed a trio of climate change-related bills, including one that will require a sea level rise analysis before projects can be approved.
- Hawaii is targeting 100% renewables by 2045. The carbon neutrality goal sets the state alongside a select few cities and countries with similar targets, according to Fast Company.
Carbon neutrality means Hawaii would have to account for and offset all of its emissions — an effort that would extend beyond adding more green energy. The state will need to look at reforestation efforts, using trees as "carbon sinks" in order to achieve the new goal.
While the goal is ambitious, Hawaii is not alone — Costa Rica is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2021; Austin and Boston are targeting 2050; and several European nations are also aiming for neutrality more than a decade away.
The three bills signed by Ige take different measures to combat climate change and meet the new goal. "Taken together, this suite of bills establishes policies and programs that acknowledge and address this reality," Ige said in a statement.
HB 2182 sets the neutrality goal and establishes a Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force.
HB 1986 creates a framework for a carbon offset program that allows for carbon credits through global carbon sequestration protocols. Practically speaking, the measure will address carbon sequestration through forest restoration.
HB 2106 requires a sea level rise analysis in environmental impact statements before projects can go ahead.
"We see tremendous potential for restoration, protection and management of forest areas in Hawaiʻi to offer cost-efficient climate change mitigation. That’s why this framework for capturing carbon through reforestation and carbon farming is an important step forward," Ige said.
Hawaii's legislature has played a key role in advancing the state's energy goals. Earlier this year, Ige signed a bill directing the state's Public Utilities Commission to implement performance-based regulation by 2020 that would sever the link between utility revenues and capital investments.
SB 2939 directed the creation of business models that would base revenues on metrics like customer satisfaction, renewable energy integration and data sharing.
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