The State of Hawaii is the first sub-national government to sign onto the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, presented Friday by the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to the United Nations Secretary General. The Aloha State joins other leaders from around the world in making commitments to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
"The State of Hawaii stands with other islands around the world in recognizing the urgent threat of climate change to our sustainability," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. "We have signed onto the Majuro Declaration to share our ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovative energy transformation. We also understand the need to prepare for climate change adaptation through an integrated approach to building a green, resilient economy."
The United States committed to the declaration by submitting President Barack Obama's new Climate Action Plan as a broad set of additional actions announced in June 2013 to enhance efforts in furtherance of its emissions reduction target. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: "The U.S. is deeply committed to leading on climate change. We will work with our partners around the world through ambitious actions to reduce emissions, transform our energy economy, and help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of climate change."
Hawaii's commitments to climate change mitigation are focused on actions related to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which is a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Hawaii to achieve 70 percent clean energy (40 percent through renewables and 30 percent through efficiency) by 2030 -- one of the most ambitious energy goals in the nation. Additionally, Hawaii has committed to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to levels at or below estimates for 1990. Hawaii is the only state in the nation to adopt both a climate change mitigation policy and climate change adaptation policy, which recognize the role of public-private partnerships in achieving goals.
On Sept. 5, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum adopted the Majuro Declaration in response to scientific evidence that escalating emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming and Pacific Islands are on the front lines of the impacts. The declaration notes that on May 9, 2013, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide measured near the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawaii exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began. The declaration states, "In crossing this historic threshold, the world entered a new danger zone."
Since then, on Sept. 27, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, appointed by the United Nations, released a 2000-page report that stated, "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause" of global warming since 1950. For the first time, the panel formally endorsed the limit of emissions.
Earlier this month, Minister Tony de Brum of the Marshall Islands invited Gov. Abercrombie to join other Pacific islands in this effort at the Governor's reception for Seychelles Ambassador Ronald Jumeau during the 2013 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit in Honolulu.
"We very much welcome the commitment of the State of Hawaii to be a Climate Leader by signing our Majuro Declaration," Minister de Brum said. "Hawaii is the first sub-national government to come on board, and will help create the upward spiral of ambition the world so desperately needs. As an island state with ambitious green targets, Hawaii knows the threat posed by climate change. It is time now for all of us to turn our words into action, and to ensure others follow quickly in our footsteps."