Hawaii is among a number of states making a stand against the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, but is the first to pass legislation on the issue
Hawaii has defied US national policy by passing a bill that matches the carbon emissions reduction goals originally set by the Paris climate change agreement.
On 6 June, Hawaii’s governor David Ige signed in two environmental laws, one of which specifically sets emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris agreement, while the second will see the creation of a state taskforce to improve soil health and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say,” said Ige at the signing.
The non-binding 2015 Paris accord, signed by 195 world leaders, committed nations to set emissions targets to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels.
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The talks led to a landmark agreement that saw both the US and China, which together represent almost 40 per cent of global emissions, issuing a joint statement in April 2016 confirming that both countries would sign up.
However, on 1 June 2017, US president Donald Trump announced his decision to take the country out of the agreement and halt all attempts to the fulfil commitments laid out by Barack Obama.
Although Hawaii is the first to make such a commitment through policy, a number of other US states are taking a stand against Trump’s decision. On the same day as Hawaii announced its new bills, the governor of California, Jerry Brown, met Chinese president Xi Jinping to sign a non-binding deal which will see the two working together towards environmental sustainability. The pair discussed expanding the trade of green technologies and collaboration on climate research.
Many of the greatest challenges of our day hit us first. That means that we also need to be the first when it comes to creating solutions
The week also saw the formation of the US Climate Alliance, a coalition of US states committed to upholding the targets set out it the Paris agreement. Some 12 states and Puerto Rico have signed up so far, including New York, Washington and Massachusetts.
The announcement is not the first time that Hawaii has led the way in terms of environmental legislation. Two years ago, the state set an ambitious target to run entirely on renewable energy by 2045.
“Many of the greatest challenges of our day hit us first,” said Ige. “That means that we also need to be the first when it comes to creating solutions.”
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