A Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a community-specific strategy to combat climate change and eliminate fossil fuel emissions—the root cause of global warming. A CAP lays out a detailed list of programs, policies, and actions that a community must take to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over a period of several years.
The four main components of a CAP are:
A local inventory of current annual GHG emissions;
A series of target emissions reduction goals and dates relative to a baseline year or amount;
A comprehensive list of actions that will reduce or eliminate carbon pollution to achieve those emission reduction targets.
Community outreach to build awareness and understand priorities concerns from a diverse set of stakeholders and residents
Carbon pollution reduction strategies often include increasing renewable energy generation (e.g., solar PV or wind); energy efficiency measures in commercial and residential buildings; moving away from fossil fuels and toward electrified transportation (e.g., electric vehicles, battery electric buses, and rail); and creating more walk-able, bike-able communities.
The goal of a CAP is to eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels -particularly oil and coal as soon as possible- for electricity generation and transportation.
Climate action Plan public meeting series
The city’s Resilience Office held a series of community engagement meetings to help create O‘ahu’s first-ever Climate Action Plan (CAP). In partnership with Honolulu City Councilmembers, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, the Resilience Office co-hosted community meetings across O‘ahu to discuss climate change impacts already affecting our island and to ask for citizen input about how to reduce our climate emissions as rapidly as possible.
Climate Action Plan Public Meeting Series Presentation
Public participation is the only way to have a successful Climate Action Plan. The slide deck to the Resilience Office’s presentation on the overview of the office and climate initiatives, Climate Action Planning overview, and the emissions reduction game is available here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why is the City doing a Climate Action Plan?
As an island community, we are already witnessing firsthand the impacts of climate change around us, and negative impacts will increase without a reduction in fossil-fuel emissions. More frequent and larger hurricanes, flooding, a drop in trade wind days, and coastal erosion/beach loss are all the direct result of global warming. The CAP represents our City’s determination to protect our island way-of-life and well-being for ourselves and future generations. A CAP also helps meet the world’s pledge to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and will also result in long-term economic benefits as we currently export nearly $5 billion each year to pay for imported fossil fuel. Oʻahu is already becoming an innovation hub for renewable energy, electrification of transportation, and energy storage technology, and decarbonizing our economy rapidly will not only protect us against risk, but drive economic growth and job creation for the 21st century.
Who creates a Climate Action Plan?
You! Climate Action Planning is a collaborative process to establish each individual community’s priorities for its own CAP, and involves bringing together citizens, experts, and other community stakeholders to collectively map out the measures and actions to decarbonize our local economy and society. The City’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency (Resilience Office) is coordinating this effort and launched the community CAP process in July. The Resilience Office has scheduled a series of island-wide community meetings that are co-hosted by local City Councilmembers across Oʻahu this Fall to both inform residents about the urgency of climate action, and incorporate their concerns and ideas. The CAP will only be as strong as the community understanding of the risk of climate change, and the will to change policies and practices to decarbonize our economy quickly for long-term security.
Where are we in the process?
The City completed its very first GHG inventory in September, and is now beginning our community engagement, target setting, and strategy development phase. We now know how much we are emitting and where carbon emissions must be cut if we are to thrive as an island. Through the end of 2018 we will hold multiple community meetings and use citizen input to help shape and issue a CAP in 2019.
How does the CAP relate to the Oʻahu Resilience Strategy that is also being developed?
The City and County of Honolulu is developing a comprehensive “Resilience Strategy” for the island of Oʻahu that addresses four major areas that residents prioritized over the past year: 1) Natural disaster preparation; 2) Long-term affordability for residents; 3) Climate change mitigation and adaptation; and, 4) Strengthening community. The information you are providing for the CAP will directly inform the “Climate change mitigation” section of the Resilience Strategy. You can think of the Resilience Strategy as a broader umbrella, and the CAP as one pillar of it alongside several others. However, the Resilience Strategy will be released in early 2019 and include top-level information from the CAP process, and the full, detailed CAP will be released in late 2019.
Will the implementation of a Climate Action Plan likely cost taxpayers money?
This question depends directly on which costs we are counting. Doing nothing about climate change will cost Oʻahu at least $12.9 billion dollars in at-risk coastal real estate and assets, and our reliance on fossil fuel energy currently costs our state $5 billion per year. These are the costs of not acting. While the transition to a 100% clean energy economy will save billions of dollars for taxpayers over time, the up-front costs to change the major elements of the system will certainly have costs associated with it. Investments in building efficiency, electric charging infrastructure, installing renewable energy projects, and even building flood prevention or planting trees to cool neighborhoods all have up-front costs. However, if we do not invest as taxpayers right now we are increasingly risking billions of dollars and ultimately lives as climate change impacts worsen.
Isn’t Hawaiʻi’s contribution to global warming too small to make a difference—why should make the effort to get off of fossil fuels if others aren’t doing it first?
As an island community that will be hit “first and worst” by climate change impacts, we need to lead by example but we also have a moral responsibility along with every other city, state, and country to clean up our share of the problem. If everyone uses the excuse that their contribution won’t make a difference, no action will occur ensuring the demise of human civilization. Philosophy aside, there are other key benefits to de-carbonizing our economy and society. This is an opportunity to building a dynamic new innovation sector in our economy by accelerating Oʻahu as a laboratory for the newest and most effective green technologies. Our island isolation provides the perfect “petri dish” to pilot new technologies and business models. Seattle, San Diego, and other cities have already shown that reducing emissions can go hand-in-hand with strong economic growth and better-paying jobs—transitioning to a zero carbon economy actually reduces disaster risk and economic risk for our island.