Hawaii isn’t the easiest destination for most Americans to reach, but here’s a reason you can feel better about flying over there: the state just pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2045.
The state’s legislature approved two bills to both develop a plan to reach the goal, known as Bill 2182, and to enact emission-offsetting programs throughout the state, known as Bill 1986.
In addition to serving as a reason to toast over a fruity, beachside cocktail, this announcement catapults Hawaii to the forefront of global climate action. A number of small countries including Iceland, Sweden, The Maldives, Norway, and Costa Rica have pledged carbon neutrality.
Hawaii has a particularly sharp reason behind their aggressive approach to combating climate change: the state’s isolated location in the Pacific Ocean places it among the most at-risk. Rising ocean waters could be devastating to the islands and their residents. The state already has a law in place mandating all utilities to source 100% renewable energy by the same 2045 deadline, and the new bills, if successfully enacted, will turn Hawaii into a place that actually offsets more carbon pollution than it produces. The next step is for Governor David Ige to sign the bills into law to get the process started.
Hawaii’s move comes at an important time in the global fight against climate change. The United States as a whole announced plans in 2017 to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord in 2020. But since the announcement by President Trump, multiple states and cities have pledged to either keep or exceed their commitment to the accord. Prior to the passage of the two bills, Rhode Island had the most ambitious climate action plan of any US state, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.