Hawaii's Future Is At Risk Without Bold Climate Action - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Nicole Lowen

Nicole Lowen has represented District 6 (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau) in the Hawaii House of Representatives since 2012. She currently serves as chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.


Hawaii is facing the consequences of climate change every day.

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Worsening storms and rising sea levels are threatening our communities. Health disparities across the state are increasing. Unless we turn things around, the harms of climate change will only get worse. 

We do not need to look far to see how the climate crisis is shaping life in Hawaii. Climate change is fueling extreme weather across our state, including wildfires and floods.

From 2010 to 2020, Hawaii experienced 145 extreme weather events that cost our state nearly $1 trillion in damages. Already, 66,000 people in Hawai’i are at risk of coastal flooding, and by 2050, an additional 152,000 people are projected to be at risk due to rising sea levels.

The price of inaction is clear, and our leaders must act now to reduce the climate-harming carbon pollution that is driving this extreme weather.

With Congress and President Joe Biden already delivering on bipartisan infrastructure legislation in mid-November, our leaders need to now deliver on a strong climate bill for Hawaii. Thankfully, we have a solution and a concrete pathway to address the climate crisis and support our nation’s growing clean energy future in a just and equitable way.

Large waves hit a walkway near Fort DeRussy Beach Park after tidal forecasts predicted higher than normal tides. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

With the Build Back Better Act, which just cleared a milestone with passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, we can deliver historic investments totaling more than $550 billion in climate action, clean energy and environmental justice.

Scientists have warned us for years about the dangers of inaction on climate change. Sure enough, here we are at a code red moment for the climate crisis. The BBBA will put our nation on the path to cut carbon pollution by at least 50% by 2030, the same goal scientists tell us is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

For communities of color and low-wealth communities, which disproportionately bear the burden of climate change, climate action is a matter of justice, and the BBBA will advance environmental justice by investing in these exact communities.

This bold climate bill will also jumpstart Hawaii’s growing clean energy economy. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, clean energy jobs were growing 70% faster than the economy as a whole, and today, about 13,000 Hawaii residents are employed in the clean energy sector. With the BBBA, we can capitalize on this clear potential and ensure a bright and prosperous clean energy future for all in our state.

Hawaii deserves better than the status quo. While our state is doing everything it can to tackle the climate crisis, including setting a 2045 net-zero emissions target, we need support from our leaders in Congress to protect our health and environment. While I appreciate Rep. Ed Case (HI-01) following through on his commitment to support the BBBA and Rep. Kai Kahele’s (HI-02) vocal support of the bill, there is still work to be done.

The Build Back Better Act now heads to the Senate for debate. All of our elected officials must now come together to create the change that people across the country are demanding, and it is essential that the Senate do its job by swiftly passing this bold climate bill and then the House must take action on the final BBBA.

Already, 77% of Hawai’i voters want their Members of Congress to support the BBBA and its bold climate-related provisions. Climate change isn’t a matter of politics; it’s a matter of quality of life and in all our best interests to confront the climate crisis head-on. Now let’s pass the Build Back Better Act.

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About the Author

Nicole Lowen

Nicole Lowen has represented District 6 (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau) in the Hawaii House of Representatives since 2012. She currently serves as chair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.


Latest Comments (0)

Hawai'i as a people will need to take an aggressive stand on climate change mitigation throughout the islands & our surrounding pacific ecosystems. Those who spread misinformation & nonsense on the effects of global warming & climate change should be charged with human rights violations ... as people like this contribute directly to the lack of response to environmental changes and ineffectual & detrimental policies that serve greed & corruption. 

palani.blaisdell · 6 months ago

Some see the need for an all-encompassing social, economic, and environmental transformation that will fully address global warming, climate-changing impacts, and an increasing planetary imbalance created by a global society that’s fossil fuel dependent. Transitioning to a clean energy economy from a century-old embedded and dependent fossil fueled economy will not be possible if global taxpayers are continually expected to subsidize the world’s richest industry (Big Oil) each year to the tune of $5.5 Trillion USD annually (IMF-World Banks report).Fossils fuels are costly beyond any spreadsheet calculation. From extraction to tailpipe/smokestack pollution, and then into the atmosphere, its deficit spending of our limited planetary assets on a global scale. Nicole Lowen gets it, which is more than can be said for many of her colleagues in Hawaii’s House and Senate. There is no way around it, the state, the country, and the world must undertake with all vigor meaningful action to more than just cut emissions, but engage in a true transformation to a zero emissions clean and sustainable global energy economy.  Here in Hawaii we should understand this basic truth better than most.

BeyondKona · 6 months ago

The only long-term replacement for fossil fuels that is compatible with the laws of physics and Earth's resource and environmental constraints is nuclear and thermonuclear power. The Build Back Better Act makes ZERO investment into this long-term future. Instead, BBBA invests a little in stopgap, dead-end energy technologies - and a lot into something that completely defies my attempts at comprehension. We should scrap BBBA and start from scratch. Instead of a flurry of immediate activity that leaves no lasting value, the focus should be on identifying the long-term goal and funding the most direct and efficient path to reach it, with as few distractions and sideshows as possible.

Chiquita · 6 months ago

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