A plan to lead on climate change

With the right leadership, Hawaii has an opportunity to lead the world with our response to climate change in the coming years.

Our transition to a clean energy future is already well underway.

Hawaii has the highest proportion of rooftop solar panels in the entire country, and we are the only state in the nation whose legislature has declared a climate emergency and the only state with a statutory commitment to be carbon negative by 2045.

Fourteen states, including California and Massachusetts, have modeled their energy goals and policies on ours.

The state Public Utilities Commission has already approved a plan by Hawaiian Electric to decarbonize the grid, and we are now building the solar farms that will replace our last coal-fired power plant, creating well-paying green jobs at the same time.

With federal assistance, Hawaii has a plan in place to build a statewide electric vehicle charging network that will create even more green jobs.

More people today work in the rooftop solar industry than work for Hawaiian Electric, and a high school graduate can get an entry-level job in the rooftop photovoltaic (PV) industry at $25 an hour or more.

But we need to do even more in the coming years to accelerate our progress, cut our dependence on fossil fuels, and invest in renewable and sustainable energy in our state.

Hawaii currently spends more than $3 billion a year on oil, while we have vast untapped renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, geothermal, wave energy, ocean thermal and biofuels.

Imagine what we could do with those $3 billion if we were producing our own renewable energy instead of spending it on imported oil.

Building affordable, solar-powered housing for working families, ending chronic homelessness, investing in early childhood education and free community college, and creating a sustainable visitor industry with less social and environmental impact and more benefit to the people of Hawaii are just a few of the priorities that spring to mind.

As a state senator, I sponsored Hawaii’s first renewable portfolio standards that mandated a substantial portion of Hawaii’s future energy production come from renewable energy sources.

I fought to make renewable energy more accessible to Hawaii’s residents and supported expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and tax credits to encourage EV adoption, PV tax credits, tax credits for renewable fuels production.

As governor, I will implement the most ambitious plan in the nation to take on climate change and transition to clean energy. My plan will:

>> Lead the nation with the highest efficiency and emissions standards to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles statewide;

>> Restore residential PV tax credits to kick-start a new solar energy revolution so every roof in Hawaii can produce its own clean solar energy;

>> Set a state facility efficiency goal of cutting energy use by at least 30% before 2030 and increasing the renewable energy generation of all state facilities;

>> Implement a statewide climate change and resiliency plan to mitigate damage caused by rising sea levels;

>> Invest new state and federal resources in a multibillion-dollar green economy and create thousands of new green jobs;

>> Create new incentives for the development and manufacture of next-generation technologies to address the climate crisis right here in Hawaii;

>> Complete the plan to build a statewide electric vehicle charging network, which will create even more green jobs;

>> Explore an impact fee to be collected from every visitor and reinvested in solar-powered affordable housing for working families and maintaining Hawaii’s parks and beaches;

>> Upgrade and improve our energy, water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure;

>> Advance smart growth initiatives and multimodal transportation systems.

My administration will take the threat of climate change seriously.

We will take immediate action to protect Hawaii from the local effects of rising sea levels and destructive storms, and the long-term global impacts of rising temperatures.

We don’t have to choose between growing our economy and addressing climate change; we can and must do both at the same time.

As we rebuild Hawaii’s economy in a post-COVID world, we will make historic, transformative public and private investments to launch a clean energy revolution that will lead the nation and the world in addressing the climate crisis.