Climate Change Commissioners sworn in

PRESS RELEASE

MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL

OFFICE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, SUSTAINABILITY AND RESILIENCY

CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU

 

Honolulu – A swearing in ceremony was held today in Honolulu Hale for the five members of the new Climate Change Commission: Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, Makena Coffman, Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, Victoria Keener, and Bettina Mehnert. Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed all five commission members, who were confirmed by the Honolulu City Council earlier in the day.

Mayor Caldwell, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya Jr. and Deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer attended the ceremony after the oath of office was administered to the five commission members, thus affirming their positions as officers of the city.

The Climate Change Commission was created after O‘ahu voters approved an amendment to the City Charter in the 2016 general election that mandated the creation of the new panel. The role of the Climate Change Commission is to gather the latest science and information on climate change impacts to Hawai‘i and provide advice and recommendations to Mayor Caldwell, executive departments and the City Council as they look to draft policy and engage in planning for future climate scenarios.

“The five members of the Climate Change Commission are experts in their respective fields and will have a tremendous impact on our island city as we embark on a new era of sustainability and resiliency in the face of sea level rise and increased storm risk,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I thank each of them for taking on this volunteer role and I know their hard work will result in progress that will benefit our residents for decades to come.”

Commission members have agreed to meet at least once every month with the first meeting scheduled on Wednesday, February 7, at 3 p.m. in the City Council Meeting Room in Honolulu Hale.

“Our office is thrilled that Mayor Caldwell has selected a diverse group of global and local climate experts to this important commission and that the City Council confirmed all of them unanimously,” said Josh Stanbro, executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, who also serves as the city’s Chief Resilience Officer. “It is critical that we base our policies on data and the latest science in order to protect our quality of life and O‘ahu’s economy for the long-term.”

 

Climate Change Commission members:

Rosanna ‘Anolani Alegado, PhD

Rosie Alegado’s lab investigates the role of microbes across spatial and temporal scales. By bringing together microbial ecologists and biogeochemists her group examines the influence of microbial communities on coastal ocean processes, especially in light of a changing climate. A recent project in her lab involves using indigenous historical records to reconstruct Hawaiian regional climate beyond conventional instrument records in collaboration with the International Pacific Research Center and Puakea Nogelmeier at the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Makena Coffman, PhD

Makena Coffman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research interests include greenhouse gas mitigation, energy policy and alternative transportation strategies. Coffman is a Research Fellow with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and has worked extensively with state and county governments on issues of greenhouse gas policy and climate action planning. 

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher, PhD

Charles ‘Chip’ Fletcher is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and Professor of Geology and Geophysics. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses emphasizing Earth Science and Climate Change on Pacific Islands. Over 30 graduate and undergraduate students have received degrees in his research group. Fletcher engages in community service and is the recipient of several awards, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching (twice), the U.S. EPA Environmental Achievement Award in Climate Change Science, the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community, and the Robert W. Clopton Award for Distinguished Community Service. Fletcher is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.

Victoria Keener, PhD

Victoria Keener is the Lead Principal Investigator of the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program, and earned a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida, specializing in hydro-climatological research dealing with the effects of climate variability. Keener coordinates an interdisciplinary team of social and physical scientists that aims to reduce the vulnerability of Pacific Island communities to climate change by translating academic research into actionable knowledge for a variety of stakeholders at the local, state, and regional level – especially regarding the management of fresh water resources. She is the Lead Editor and a Chapter Author for the 2012 Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA) report and the lead author of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the forthcoming 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment.

Bettina Mehnert, FAIA, LEED AP O+M

A sustainability-focused community business leader, Bettina Mehnert is president and CEO of the design firm AHL and has multiple national leadership roles with the Urban Land Institute, and locally with Hawaiʻi Green Growth, the Sustainable Business Forum and the Aloha + Challenge. Under her leadership AHL has been recognized as a top firm nationally and locally, including being named by the publication Engineering News-Record as one of the top 100 Green firms in the U.S. She was also instrumental in launching AHL’s one percent Pro Bono Program, where nonprofits receive pro bono architectural services that result in significant advancement of programs such as the Rain Forest Pavilion for the Hawai‘i Nature Center and the Rooftop Food and Job Training Garden for the Institute for Human Services.

Honolulu launches electric bus pilot project

It’s official! The first zero-emission electric bus in Hawai‘i has arrived! This Proterra bus will be tested on 23 city routes as a pilot project for The Bus. Thank you to our Honolulu county leadership for taking this important step towards 100% clean ground transportation. Photo by Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency

 

Above: Press Conference with Mayor Caldwell, the Department of Transportation Services, Oahu Transit Services, the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, Councilmembers Elefante, Manahan, and Fukunaga, Hawaiian Electric Company, Proterra, Blue Planet Foundation, and the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group.

Media coverage:

KHON2:

City unveils electric bus

KITV:

City unveils new electric bus pilot project for city fleet

Hawai‘i News Now:

Hawaii’s new electric bus pilot project unveiled

 

Support for new Climate Change Commissioners

The 2016 Charter Amendment that created Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency also resulted in the formation of a “Climate Change Commission.” The Climate Change Commission consists of five members with “expertise in climate change in Hawai‘i, which shall meet no less than twice annually for the purpose of gathering the latest science and information on climate change effects in the city and providing advice as is deemed appropriate to the executive for climate change and sustainability, the mayor, council and executive departments of the city.” (2016 General Election Charter Amendment Question No. 7)

We submitted the following testimony in support for the confirmation of all 5 Commissioner appointments before the January PWIS Committee meeting:

Should the city send its recyclables to H-Power and can we create a composting facility?

Aloha O‘ahu Group supporters! We continue discussing waste issues at Honolulu Hale and 2018 started with a Public Works, Infrastructure, and Sustainability Committee hearing about our recycling program, H-power, and options for commercial composting.

Resolution 17-311 recommends we send our recyclables to H-Power for incineration. Please see our written testimony in OPPOSITION below:


We also testified in SUPPORT for Resolution 17-340, at this hearing. This Resolution urges the city to develop commercial composting facilities able to process solid waste that is currently going to H-Power, including single-use disposable food containers. This measure resulted from ongoing discussion to ban EPS foam food containers and mandate compostable food containers for restaurants and other retailers. Resolution 17-340 was also deferred in the committee meeting, pending a site visit to Hawaii Earth Recycling, which is a facility that currently processes our curbside recycling green bins (garden and yard waste) and could potentially be upgraded to accept a wider variety of compostable materials (other food waste, newspaper and cardboard, compostable plastics, etc). The intention of deferring the Resolution was to incorporate additional information and findings from the site visit, and potentially a composting pilot project, into Resolution 17-340. Here is our testimony below:


After the hearing, we gave a statement to Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii News Now video coverage: Plan to burn recyclables at Hpower placed on hold

Hawai‘i’s Mayors commit to shared goal of 100 percent renewable ground transportation by 2045

Today in Wai‘anae, Leaders from the City and County of Honolulu, Maui County, Hawai‘i County and Kaua‘i County came together today on the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa in committing to transform Hawai‘i’s public and private ground transportation to 100 percent renewable fuel sources by 2045.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. and Hawaiʻi County Managing Director Wil Okabe, representing Mayor Harry Kim, set the new target by signing their respective proclamations.

The mayors were joined by Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson in Pōkaʻī Bay on Oʻahu’s Leeward Coast to sign the proclamations on the captain’s box of the Hōkūleʻa, which promoted sustainability and resilience during its recent Mālama Honua voyage.

“The stakes are too high for Oʻahu, as well as the rest of our state.  We have to change our path,” said Mayor Caldwell.  “With this announcement we want to send a message that we welcome the next phase of Hawaiʻi’s clean energy transformation, which will not only reduce our carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel imports, but will also ensure a more resilient future.”

The four mayors recognize that this pledge is a critical next step to energy sustainability since ground transportation accounts for over one-quarter of Hawaiʻi’s imported fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  It also represents a significant financial gain for our residents as operating and maintaining an electric vehicle costs about one-third less than a comparable vehicle powered by fossil-fuel.

In their specific proclamations the City and County of Honolulu, the County of Maui, and the County of Kauaʻi pledged to lead the way by transitioning all of their fleet vehicles to 100 percent renewable power by 2035, and the County of Hawaiʻi plans to establish a goal toward the same end.

“It is vitally important that we chart a new course that steers us away from fossil fuel use and carbon emissions in our ground transportation,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.  “The goals we are setting today are not only desirable, but attainable, and help send a message that Maui County and Hawaiʻi are open for innovation to help ensure the greater health of our communities and the planet as a whole.”

The signed proclamations solidify Hawaiʻi’s role as a global renewable energy leader, with the state and all four counties becoming the first in the nation to commit to a 100 percent renewable transportation future.

“Hawai’i County is committed to the goals of this initiative, and we will do everything we can to see it fulfilled,” said Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim.

The proclamations also continue Hawai‘i’s progress in transitioning away from fossil fuels and builds off a 2015 state law that requires 100 percent of Hawai‘i’s electricity to be generated by renewable sources by 2045.  Hawai‘i’s 2045 goal was the nation’s first such benchmark.

“It is our shared kuleana to reduce our emissions, no matter how big or small our communities may be,” stated Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr.  “It is an ambitious goal, but by bringing everyone to the table to work together, we can achieve 100 percent affordable, safe, renewable transportation by 2045.”

The four Hawaiʻi mayors join leaders in France, Great Britain, India, China, Dublin, Madrid, Oslo, Milan, Paris, and Brussels who have also committed to transition their transportation systems away from fossil fuels.

“Hōkūleʻa’s voyage around the world was dangerous, but the risk of inaction outweighed the risk of the voyage,” said Nainoa Thompson.  “The call of Mālama Honua is being answered today by these four mayors who are continuing the legacy of the voyage and showing the world what local climate leadership looks like.”

Local businesses and clean energy organizations applauded the historic action by the four mayors.

“This initiative will spark innovation and entrepreneurship in our state,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.  “We’ve seen how the renewable energy revolution in electricity has grown jobs and helped keep over $300 million every year in the local economy.”

“We commend the vision of these leaders in setting the course for Hawaiʻi’s sustainable transportation future,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of Blue Planet Foundation.  “This goal has been one of the missing pieces in our clean energy puzzle.”

“I am proud to be here today to share in this historic announcement,” said Jodi Malinoski, Sierra Club O‘ahu Group Coordinator. “This commitment to zero-emission buses and electric vehicles is integral to healthy, livable communities and will ensure a more just and equitable transition to a clean energy future.”

Background

While imported petroleum use for electricity generation has been decreasing over the past decade, due to the success of the public-private partnership to achieve a 100 percent renewable electrical grid by 2045, gasoline and diesel use in vehicles has grown in recent years.

The proclamations signed today by the chief executives of the four counties are in alignment with the state of Hawai‘i’s recent commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

All four mayors previously joined Governor David Ige on June 5, 2017 to commit to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement just days after President Donald J. Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from the international accord to address global warming.

More recently, Mayor Caldwell returned from the North American Climate Summit last week where he signed the Chicago Climate Charter and met with former President Barack Obama, who encouraged U.S. mayors and local governments to lead the country in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goals.

The City and County of Honolulu was recently selected by 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, to be part of an international cohort of cities addressing the increased stresses and shocks of the 21st century.  The city will be developing a “Resilience Strategy” in 2018 that will include how best to address climate change challenges on Oʻahu.  Nainoa Thompson serves as a member of the Mayor’s Resilience Strategy Steering Committee.

-END-


O‘ahu Group Coordinator Jodi Malinoski with Joshua Stanbro, Executive Director and Chief Resilience Officer for Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kauaʻi County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., Hawaiʻi County Managing Director Wil Okabe, and Honolulu Councilmember Joey Manahan, joined by Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson in Pōkaʻī Bay on Oʻahu’s Leeward Coast to make the announcement to 100% clean ground transportation by 2045.


What an amazing honor to set foot on mama Hōkūleʻa…

Additional photos from the City and County of Honolulu can be viewed here.

 

Star Advertiser: LED fixtures in city street lights dangerously bright, Sierra Club says

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The Sierra Club’s Oahu Group on Friday said the LED fixtures the city chose for its approximately 53,500 street lights across Oahu are “bluer” and more harmful than more technologically advanced LEDs now on the market.

“We met with the city over a year ago and advised them to avoid the use of the much bluer 4000K and 3000K lighting,” the Oahu Group of the Sierra Club said in a statement.

Robert Kroning, the city’s director of design and construction, said the city is discussing the concerns with contractor Johnson Controls. When the city solicited proposals for the project in 2016, 2700K lights were not commercially available.

The Oahu group said that the blue light component of the fixtures chosen by the city “has been scientifically proven to decrease night vision, make it more difficult for people to sleep and hurt their health, severely and adversely affect night-flying seabirds and greatly increase the sky brightness to the detriment of astronomy on Hawaii island and sky gazers on Oahu.”

Kevin Jim, an astronomer and physicist who volunteers with the Sierra Club, said Los Angeles is now requiring most new lighting be 2700K after it made the same mistake, he said.

Kroning said the city has learned that the contractor’s manufacturer recently made available 2700K lights. “We are having the contractor examine the new 2700K LED street lights to see if they meet the requirements of the request for proposals in both energy savings and in illumination of our roadways,” he said. “If they do, we may make the change to a 2700K fixture.”

Kroning said he’s comfortable with the 3000K fixtures, which will be used in 90 percent of the lamps “since the blue light component difference between 3000K and 2700K light is quite small.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the conversions Thursday, saying the city does not need to pay any of the $46.6 million in costs upfront and that the lights will pay for themselves within 10 years and then start saving the city about $5 million annually.

Support for Bill 1 (2017)- Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan

Below is the Sierra Club O‘ahu Group’s organizational testimony in support for Bill 1 (2017)- the Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan:



We also created this social media graphic which we shared with our allies in Ko‘olauloa, sent to our O‘ahu Group email list, and posted to our Facebook page:

“Please submit testimony in SUPPORT for Bill 1 (2017) and attend the special Planning Committee meeting on November 29th, 6:30 PM, at Hau‘ula Elementary School’s cafeteria. Bill 1 (2017) updates the Ko‘olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan and helps guide future development on O‘ahu. This bill preserves the rural character of Ko‘olauloa (Northeastern O‘ahu from Ka‘a‘awa to Kahuku) and omits the “Envision La‘ie” development project proposal. We must preserve our remaining agricultural lands on O‘ahu and concentrate development within the urban core. Read the meeting agenda and submit testimony at: bit.ly/koolauloa


News Coverage for the meeting:

Civil Beat Article: http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/temple-of-boom-mormon-church-north-shore-housing-plans-hit-roadblock/

Star-Advertiser: http://www.staradvertiser.com/2017/11/29/hawaii-news/malaekahana-development-to-be-discussed-in-meeting/

Star-Advertiser: Council committee defers ban on foam containers

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
November 16, 2017

A Honolulu City Council committee on Wednesday deferred a bill that would bar food vendors from using polystyrene foam food containers and require them to instead use compostable ones.

The decision to defer Bill 71 was met with anger and frustration from representatives of several environmental groups.

Public Works, Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga said there still appeared to be many concerns with the measure from various sides.

After the meeting, she said in an interview that she doesn’t intend to shelve the bill indefinitely.

“We’re going to have further discussions with the Department of Environmental Services, all the environmental organizations and the food industry folks and see what we can do with Bill 71,” Fukunaga said. If the discussions lead to the need for a new bill, “then we’ll move forward on that.”

When Fukunaga made her recommendation in committee, none of her colleagues raised objections and she moved onto the next item on the agenda. Deferrals at the committee level generally don’t include a formal vote, but several environmentalists criticized her for not conducting a vote.

Earlier this year, Council members deferred Bill 59 (2016), a measure to get rid of loopholes in the plastic bag ban, also citing the need to find a compromise to appease different stakeholders.

More than 40 people testified Wednesday on Bill 71, which was introduced by Councilwoman Kymberly Pine. By about a 3-1 margin, people spoke in favor of a ban on foam containers.

The Rev. Phillip Harmon, founder of the nonprofit Kahu­mana, said the organization serves food at its farm and cafe on bio-­compostable materials that will break down into soil. “Initially, about five years ago, it added about 20 cents to every meal we produced,” Harmon said. “Five years later, it’s 11 cents. ”

Additionally, “it doesn’t leak; it’s designed to accept the oil and grease from whatever the meal is,” he said.

Several other restaurateurs, as well as environmental groups, testified that not only is styrene, a key chemical in foam containers, harmful to animals and the environment, it’s unhealthy for humans as well.

Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawai‘i co-founder Dean Otsuki said, “Styrene has been linked to cancer, vision and hearing loss, impaired memory and concentration, and nervous system effects. … The chemicals accumulate in your body … and that’s when you get into trouble.”

David Acheson of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii said the organization’s various temples are trying to convert to using only reusables and recyclables. At his own temple, members are being encouraged to bring their own cups, utensils and plates. “This is the way we’re heading,” he said. “We’re not there yet. … It’s a journey.”

The Hawaii Food Industry Association, the Retail Merchants Association and Malama 808, a group composed of restaurateurs and merchants billed as dedicated to ridding Hawaii of litter, testified against the bill.

Lauren Zirbel of the Hawaii Food Industry Association said requiring compostable food containers would “provide no positive upside to the environment” because they don’t go to a composting facility, but would increase costs for businesses and, ultimately, consumers.

Even commonly used egg containers and meat trays would be banned under the bill, she said. “This is a huge cost.”

Jason Higa, president of FCH Enterprises, the parent company of Zippy’s Restaurants, said his restaurants switched to Type 5 polypropylene containers, which are microwave-safe, in 2010 in response to customer feedback.

Higa said he’s most troubled with the bill’s requirement that restaurants use compostable containers, something his company explored last year. “Our biggest concern with compostable containers is from a safety standpoint. … The integrity of that container is an issue for employees as well as our customers.”

About 10 employees of KYD Inc., a local manufacturer of disposable containers, testified that they may lose their jobs if the bill is passed.

In related news, the committee also deferred Bill 73, which attempts to tackle littering through education by providing incentives for nonprofits to help.

Bill 71 (2017)- Ban of expanded polystyrene foam food containers

In October and November 2017, the O‘ahu Group and coalition partners from the Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation and Surfrider Foundation met with Councilmember Pine (bill introducer) and Councilmember Fukunaga (Committee Chair) to discuss O‘ahu’s proposed foam ban. We submitted the following testimony in support of O‘ahu’s foam ban. Click here to read Bill 71 (2017) and its current status.