Hawaii will become the first state of the U.S. to declare climate change an emergency. The climate emergency will be declared following the adoption of the State Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 bill, which acknowledges the existence and urgency of climate change. The bill further calls for statewide action to curb climate change.
A section of the bill reads that it “acknowledges that an existential climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural world, declares a climate emergency, and requests statewide collaboration toward an immediate just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.”
With the passing of this bill, pressure is now mounting on President Joe Biden to also declare a nationwide emergency.
In February of this year, House Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer collaborated with Senator Bernie Sanders to introduce the National Climate Change Emergency Act. The proposed act, just like State Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 of Hawaii, calls for collective action in fighting climate change by acknowledging it as an emergency.
“Our country is in crisis and, to address it, we will have to mobilize our social and economic resources on a massive scale,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “If we want to want to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — if we want to ensure that our nation has an equitable economic recovery and prevent yet another life-altering crisis — then we have to start by calling this moment what it is, a national emergency.”
Globally, many places have already taken action to declare climate emergencies. The Climate Mobilization Project data shows that 1,900 jurisdictions globally have declared climate emergencies. In the U.S., about 144 jurisdictions have also made the move. Case in point, Hawaii Island Council and Maui County Council had already declared climate emergencies before the new bill.
Environmental advocacy groups have welcomed the move, congratulating the state on taking the high road. The Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition advocacy director Dyson Chee said that climate change is a crisis and must be seen that way.
“Climate change is an emergency that needs to be dealt with accordingly,” Chee said. “Every day we wait to take action is another day lost. The climate crisis is a clear and present threat for both current and future generations.”
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