Rep. Chris Lee Announces Passage of Hawai’i Carbon Neutrality Bolls

Community, business, and government leaders gathered on Monday to announce the passage of House Bill 2182, a new law making Hawai‘i the first state to commit to a zero emissions clean economy and statewide carbon neutrality by 2045, and House Bill 1986, which directs the establishment of a carbon credit program to bring investment in carbon offsets to Hawaiʻi businesses and agriculture.

While the federal government has deferred action on renewable energy and climate change, Hawai‘i continues to boldly lead the country and set a new precedent with the passage of HB 2182. This first-in-the-nation law will make Hawai‘i the first state committing to a zero emissions clean economy. Together with HB 1986, the bills will accelerate outside investment in the State’s renewable energy and clean transportation sectors, and catalyze new investment in local agriculture as other jurisdictions begin to invest carbon credit dollars in Hawai‘i to offset their own carbon emissions.

The islands already face costly impacts from climate change, with expected losses of $19 billion in coastal infrastructure to sea level rise in coming decades so taking this next step is important for the growth of our economy today and important to the future for the next generation.

HB 2182 passed in a bipartisan 76-0 vote and HB 1986 passed 75-0 with one member excused at the close of the legislative session last week. Both measures now head to Governor David Ige for consideration.

“Fighting climate change and building a zero emissions clean economy over the next two decades means catalyzing huge opportunities for new investment, jobs and growth in our economy today,” said State Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimānalo), author of HB 2182 and Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. “This is the biggest step forward on climate change any state has yet taken, but we know we can do this and it’s going to benefit everyone.”

“HB 2182 meshes nicely with our existing 100 percent renewable energy portfolio standards law that’s already on the books. By setting a target that we sequester more carbon and greenhouse gases than we produce by 2045, we’re creating economic opportunities and also ensuring that we do our part to fight the impacts of climate change,” said Senator Mike Gabbard (Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, Waipahū), Chairman of the Agriculture and Environment Committee.

“The intent of HB 1986 is to take the lead in the nation on the partnership between environment and business. If this measure becomes law, our state will lead the way in sustainability,” said State Representative Ryan I. Yamane (Mililani, Waipio Gentry, Waikele), author of HB 1986 and Chairman of the House Water and Land Committee.

“Moving forward on this bill will help catalyze additional investment in local businesses while helping us reach our 100% renewable energy by 2045 goal and achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i President and CEO Sherry Menor McNamara.

“This is an unprecedented revenue opportunity especially for farmers who want to get creative. They can have new crop lines, and have significant capital invested into their businesses, including opportunities to scale up their own organizations and be more sustainable financially and ecologically while they replenish and regenerate the soil,” said James McKay of the Hawai‘i Farmers Union United.

“Hawaiʻi is mastering its own destiny for the benefit of future generations by doubling down on its commitment to a truly sustainable, clean energy economy that minimizes the financial losses to residents, protects taxpayer investments in critical infrastructure, and rewards environmental stewardship. Passage of HB 2182 ensures that protecting Hawaiʻi’s environment also promotes Hawaiʻi’s economy and protects Hawaiʻi’s taxpayers,” said Mari Townsend, Director Sierra Club of Hawai‘i.

“Our utilities are already on track to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040 at a savings of nearly $6 billion over status quo fossil fuels,” said Rep. Lee. “Our transportation sector is quickly changing with the proliferation of electric vehicles that can lower costs for commuters. This bill, directing statewide carbon neutrality by 2045, ties all our efforts together while catalyzing new investment and clean jobs in our economy.”