March Updates

Cool Drinks for a Hot Planet is taking off!

Each month we are seeing new faces excited about learning more on political advocacy through our CouncilWatch Program. This year we are putting a lot of energy behind organizing community members to get active on local policy making at Honolulu Hale. This month we focused on how to track bills and deliver effective testimony. We also debuted our new CouncilWatch Chair, Tenaiya Brookfield, shared the importance of distinguishing federal, state, and local policymaking on our everyday lives and getting active on issues that matter to you. Feedback at the end of the night was positive as there were many veteran advocates and diverse newcomers in attendance that made connections. Next pau hana is Tuesday, March 31st, 6-8pm. Hope you can make it!

Climate Congress and Youth Organizing

This weekend, the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition hosted their first ever Climate Congress. It was a day dedicated to climate action and working together on solutions. There was a great turnout of high school and college students from across Oʻahu in attendance to learn about climate action. Our Chapter Director, Marti Townsend participated in a panel discussion on “Tackling the Climate Crisis through Your Organization’s Perspective.” There was a wide variety of workshops topics shared from “Organizing for Climate Justice to Food Industry to Climate Change and Climate Equity”. Oʻahu Group’s Program Manager hosted a workshop on “Climate Crisis Action: Disrupting the system to save our planet and put people before profit”. The energy was buzzing throughout the day as youth became more and more motivated to take action!

Bill 25

On February 27th, the Honolulu City Council’s Zoning, Planning, and Housing Committee passed Bill 25 for its third reading. It is now up to the full Council to make the final vote on whether it gets to the Mayor’s desk for adoption. Oʻahu Group has been supportive of this policy’s intent to make all new construction on homes and buildings more energy efficient, affordable for long term savings, and pivot our dependence away from fossil fuels. However, the latest version of Bill 25 is full of amendments which lower the solar-water heater and electric vehicle readiness standards, as well as exempt affordable housing under 100% AMI so that new legislation doesn’t further impact our “affordable housing crisis.” Each of these changes are in favor of developers and industry, not the residents of Honolulu. Data estimates from the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency clearly show that the upfront costs of Bill 25 were negligible in comparison to the the long term cost-savings for residents and drastically. However, the comments from the Honolulu City Council members reveal that they are operating from the paradigm that “giving the developers what they need” will fix the affordable housing crisis. But that logic may have gotten us into this crisis to begin with. And did we mention climate change? The reason why we must radically change not only our building codes but also challenge old ways of thinking. This means a new way of doing policy that doesn’t depend on policy makers to “do the right thing.” Policy that is created through the demands of community and those impacted most will ensure we make an equitable transition to reach our clean energy goals.