Community leaders call for action at climate change meeting in Honolulu

 HONOLULU—Hawaii community leaders called for comprehensive climate change and clean energy legislation as the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force met in Honolulu last Friday.

The meeting provided an opportunity for senior members of the Obama administration to hear local and regional ideas, questions and concerns about ocean climate change, impacts in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, and to describe federal planning efforts already underway. In January, the president’s Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy also met in Honolulu to take public comment on its interim report on marine spatial planning and better coordination of ocean policy at the federal level.

Hawaii is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The president is seeking federal action and support to safeguard public health, the economy, and our natural resources.

“I encourage the federal administration to help Hawaii develop its wave energy resources,” said state Representative Cynthia Thielen and member of CLEAN, the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now. “Wave energy can provide 100 percent of the power needed by neighbor islands and 80 perce t of Oahu’s. We can quickly replace oil with energy from the constant and powerful ocean swells.”

“It’s time for a comprehensive focus on developing resilient habitats that can survive the impacts of climate change,” said Robert Harris, Director of Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter. “For example, the federal government could look at acquiring and helping protect undeveloped coastal lands for human use and wildlife corridors, such as Mahaulepu on Kauai. Unfortunately, Hawaii will be ground zero for climate change. We have the greatest number of endangered species and one of the highest coastal populations per capita in the United States. We need a plan for the future.”

“We all share a spiritual responsibility as stewards of creation to preserve life for future generations,” said Rob Kinslow, Executive Coordinator for the Steering Committee of Hawaii Interfaith Power & Light. “Yet today we are risking our children’s lives, and ocean life, with a dangerous experiment with fossil fuels. The oceans, our islands, our people, our spiritual heritages are all connected. In the Gulf, liquid carbon deposited millions of years ago by processes that cleaned earth’s atmosphere of chemicals harmful to humans, is gushing into our oceans and onto coral reefs, beaches, and wetlands, threatening our children’s health, people’s livelihoods, and ocean life.”

“Funding is essential to protecting natural resources such as coral reefs, fisheries, coastlines, wildlife and habitat, forests, and watersheds from the impacts of climate change,” said Marjorie Ziegler, Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawaii. “Natural resources adaptation needs its own dedicated funding that does not compete with infrastructure adaptation funds, and could come from a cap and trade program or other carbon related funding sources.”

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