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Legislators tackle climate change

LIHU‘E — The county’s four state lawmakers will tackle climate legislation and questions from their constituents at this Wednesday’s virtual Kaua‘i Climate Action Forum at 6 p.m.

The virtual event comes as the state Legislature’s 2022 session draws to a close, and one year after Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to pass a climate emergency resolution.

Now, the forum’s hosts — environmental groups Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, Zero Waste Kaua‘i and the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation — want to know what happens next.

“Everybody that’s involved in this forum is very concerned about the climate crisis, and believes the IPCC reports that we don’t have very long to get this right,” organizer Helen Cox told The Garden Island, referring to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The Hawai‘i Legislature passed the climate emergency resolution … What is the action that’s following up on that?” Cox asked.

The resolution, besides declaring a climate emergency, includes a four-point plan for state government to mitigate and respond to the dangerous affects of global warning.

These broad stroke points include commitment to a “decarbonized economy,” focusing on clean energy, and a “time-phased implementation plan” that would assign state government agencies responsibilities and timetables.

State Reps. Dee Morikawa (representing Ni‘ihau, Westside and portions of Shore Shore), Jimmy Tokioka (Eastside and portions of South Shore) and Nadine Nakamura (North Shore and portions of Eastside), and Senate President Ron Kouchi (Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau), will speak after opening presentations from former Deputy Attorney General Ted Bohlen and former state Sen. Melodie Aduja, a current co-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i’s Environmental Caucus.

Nakamura, who cannot attend in real time, will speak via a pre-recorded video.

Both will review climate-related legislation introduced during the state’s 2022 legislative session. Such bills included a “green amendment” to the State Constitution, which would recognize a right to clean water and air and healthy ecosystems. However, the amendment effectively died in the state Senate when two committees deferred the measure.

Another bill, still alive at press time, is House Bill No. 2399. It would establish an Extended Producer Responsibility Program requiring certain producers of “fast-moving consumer goods” to pay a yearly fee based on the amount of packaging volume they place in the market each year.

“This is trying to pass along some of the responsibility for packaging, saying that they have to reduce their packaging, so that it doesn’t end up in our landfill,” Cox said, using Pepsi and Amazon as examples. “Because we, as citizens, pay for what goes in the landfill, and we also pay for what it does to our environment.”

The forum’s guest lawmakers will then present their own priorities before taking written questions submitted by attendees.

The event will close with a 30-minute open discussion between the politicians and their voters.

“We know from looking at surveys and polls that most people are concerned about the climate crisis,” said Cox. “However, we also know that most people are busy with their lives,” she said. “One of our goals of this forum is to help them realize … how important is it is to get engaged in the public process.”

To attend the forum, register online at https://bit.ly/climatelegislation or watch via Facebook Live at facebook.com/zerowastekauai.

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Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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