Hawaii Becomes First U.S. State To Declare Climate Emergency

4 Mins Read

After its legislature’s recent adoption of State Senate Concurrent Resolution 44, the state of Hawaii becomes the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency, and the bill “acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world, declares a climate emergency, and requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.”

The bill urges the state to focus its attention on justly transitioning towards “a decarbonized economy” where investments are made in clean energy, jobs of high caliber, and a statewide commitment in an effort to mobilize a climate emergency “to reverse the climate crisis”.

Hawaii Climate & Environmental Coalition member 350 Hawaii was excited to hear this news and welcomed this move by writing on its Facebook page: “We are the ones the future generation is counting on.”

State Rep. Lisa Marten (D-51), who led the House version of this measure, said that this move is extremely important and hopefully will encourage others to follow suit. “Hawaii is the first state to join a movement largely led by cities and counties to declare a climate emergency which reflects the commitment our state Legislature continues to make to address the causes and the impacts of climate change.”

According to the environmental conservation organization, Climate Mobilization Project, over 1,900 jurisdictions globally, including 144 within the U.S. states have made similar climate emergency declarations. In addition, Hawaii Island Council and Maui County Council are on this list.

The primary sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Mike Gabbard (D) said: “I’m very pleased that the Legislature has taken this step by declaring a climate emergency. We must take strong action to address climate change-related challenges, such as sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and the protection of our critical infrastructure.”

Hawaii is the first state to join a movement largely led by cities and counties to declare a climate emergency which reflects the commitment our state Legislature continues to make to address the causes and the impacts of climate change

Lisa Marten, State Rep.(D-51), who led the House version of the measure

To highlight these climate-related challenges, officials specifically drew attention to a letter signed back in 2017 by over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries where they warned that the entire humanity needs to end its dependency on fossil fuels and focus on preserving and protecting natural ecosystems to prevent environmental degradation. 

Advocacy director for the Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition, a youth-led, non-profit organization that works to limit the climate crisis through education and advocacy, Dyson Chee said: “Climate change is an emergency that needs to be dealt with accordingly. Every day we wait to take action is another day lost. The climate crisis is a clear and present threat for both current and future generations.”

Back in February, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) partnered with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to introduce the National Climate Emergency Act of 2021 that encourage investments in “large scale mitigation and resiliency projects” that can help accelerate “a racially and socially just transition to a clean energy economy.”

Climate change is an emergency that needs to be dealt with accordingly. Every day we wait to take action is another day lost. The climate crisis is a clear and present threat for both current and future generations

Dyson Chee, advocacy director, Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition

At the time, Ocasio-Cortez said that the country is facing a huge crisis and it is crucial we address it by mobilizing its social and economic resources on a gigantic scale. “If we want to want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past—if we want to ensure that our nation has an equitable economic recovery and prevent yet another life-altering crisis—then we have to start by calling this moment what it is, a national emergency.”

On a federal level, President Joe Biden is being urged to declare a climate emergency. Recently, in a virtual climate summit hosted by Biden, he pledged to slash carbon emissions from the country to half of what they were back in 2005 and he hopes to meet this goal by the end of this decade. “I’ve talked to the experts, and I see the potential for a more prosperous and equitable future. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction just keeps mounting.”

Elsewhere, in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed the country to reduce its carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, setting one of the world’s most ambitious climate change targets, that will further help to achieve the goals listed in the Paris agreement.

Back in February, the Singapore parliament accepted that climate change is a global emergency urging the government, private sector, and civil society to swiftly take action to tackle this crisis with some of the proposals including accelerating the decarbonization of the country’s energy mix which also supports other present commitments like building a sustainable food supply chain and combating waste issues.

Read: Covering Climate Now Statement On The Climate Emergency


Lead image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority/Vincent Lim.

1900 jurisdictions globally climate emergency declarations350 HawaiiBoris Johnsonclean energy financingclean energy investmentclimate changeclimate crisisclimate emergencyclimate emergency scientistsclimate emergency statementClimate Mobilization Projectdecarbonized economyend dependency on fossil fuelsglobal climate emergencyglobal heatingglobal warminggovernment action on climate changeHawaii becomes first U.S. state to Declare Climate EmergencyHawaii Climate & Environmental CoalitionHawaii Declares Climate EmergencyHawaii statewide collaborationHawaii Youth Climate Coalitionjoe biden climate actionjoe biden climate pledgeNational Climate Emergency Act of 2021Paris Agreement carbon reduction targetsracially just transition to clean energy economySen. Mike Gabbardsingapore climate action plansocially just transition to clean energy economyState Rep. Lisa MartenU.K. speeds up target to cut emissionsU.K. To Reduce Carbon Emissions By 78% By 2035