Preventing environmental damage is better than responding to ecological damage and it does more to mitigate the potential effects of climate change.
Protecting the fragile and precious natural environment on Maui County’s islands — and in the surrounding waters — begins with each one of us doing what we can as consumers and citizens to reduce our carbon footprint. But it also requires strong, proactive leadership.
The Maui County Council unanimously adopted my Resolution 19-209, recognizing our recognition that the climate emergency has been present for more than two decades. We’ve made some progress since then, but more needs to be done — with a sense of urgency consistent with the “emergency mobilization effort”In the resolution.
It is not an easy task. However, it is possible to work together towards positive changes that will help you achieve your stated goal. “to drastically reduce countywide emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases”By 2030
During my trip last fall to COP 26 — the U.N. Climate Change Conference — I was inspired by the demonstrated commitment to dramatic improvements in environmental protection by scientists, policymakers and other concerned people from all walks of life. There was widespread agreement that municipal governments can make a major difference — and that’s exactly what the council is working to do.
Soon after I returned from conference, the council unanimously adopted Bill 135 (2021), prohibiting the sale, distribution, and use of nonmineral sunscreens, on the recommendation by the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. The bill was signed by the president on December 6th and became Ordinance 5305.
Lauded by Craig Downs, one of the world’s leading forensic ecotoxicologists, as the boldest protection for marine life from chemical sunscreens in the nation and an inspiration for countries around the globe, the CARE Committee decision was based on data and testimony from additional scientists, environmental protection organizations, state Department of Land and Natural Resources employees and Maui County residents.
When the ordinance goes into effect on October 1, the sale, distribution and use of sunscreens that are prohibited will be considered a violation of Chapter 20,24, Maui County Code. This could result in administrative penalties. Fines will be deposited in the Environmental Protection and Sustainability Fund.
I’m honored to serve on the board of directors for ICLEI USA — the national affiliate of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. Not only that, but the County of Maui participates in two ICLEI related initiatives.
By adopting Resolution 21-166 on Nov. 5, the council accepted ICLEI’s offer to have Maui County join a small, but growing, number of municipalities in the Cities With Nature project, and I was authorized to join the State of Hawai’i in signing on behalf of Maui County the Edinburgh Declaration (https://gov.scot/publications/edin
burgh-declaration-on-post-2020-biodiversity-framework/) while at COP 26. As stated on CitiesWithNature.org, this project is “a unique initiative that recognizes and enhances the value of nature in and around cities across the world.”
The county will also be among the first U.S. municipalities to benefit from ICLEI’s Circle City Scan Tool. To find out how our local economy can grow, it will be evaluated. “circular.”
“A circular economy reduces material use, redesigns materials to be less resource intensive and recaptures ‘waste’ as a resource to manufacture new materials and products,”According to the EPA.
It is also important to make transportation more climate-friendly, in both the private and public sectors.
Farmers like Gerry Ross, Evan Ryan, and Maui Disposal have fuelled their farm equipment for decades with locally produced biodiesel. Mahalo to all the electric vehicle owners who have solar panels powering their charging systems. And I’m excited about the promise of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to facilitate more energy-efficient and renewable vehicles in our county fleet.
Other progress requires the help of state legislators.
The Hawai’i State Association of Counties has asked the Legislature to create a Climate Change Mitigation Impact Fee on rental cars. The Climate Change Mitigation Special Fund would receive the revenue, which could be used to fund environmental initiatives.
As the council’s representative on the HSAC executive committee, I’ll track this and other bills during the 2022 legislative session. To ensure a smooth and sustainable transition to the future, all council members must work in tandem with state legislators.
* Kelly Takaya King is chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. She is the South Maui resident area council member and serves on the Local Government Advisory Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Council’s 3 Minutes”This column provides the latest information on county legislative matters. For more information, go to mauicounty.us
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