Hawai‘i’s Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission, meeting Nov. 27 in Honolulu recognized ground transportation contributes significantly to Hawai‘i’s share of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources news release.
The commission supports mechanisms to reduce overall vehicle miles traveled as well as converting all remaining vehicle-based ground transportation to renewable, zero-emission fuels and technologies, as reported by DLNR.
The commission believes putting a price on carbon is the most effective single action that will achieve Hawai‘i’s ambitious and necessary emissions reduction goals. This view is also supported by expert global and local institutions:
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that a price on carbon is central to prompt mitigation, and global emissions of CO2 need to fall by 45 percent by 2030 and to zero by 2050.
- The International Monetary Fund finds that “carbon pricing is crucial in reducing emissions, and carbon taxes are more effective than other mitigation instruments.”
- State of Hawai‘i’s Report of the 2015-2017 Tax Review Commissionrecommends consideration of a carbon fee in its review of the state tax structure.
- State of Hawai‘i’s Transportation Energy Analysis, August 2015,supports an increase in the barrel tax “to fund government actions to support clean energy, specifically in regards to the bunker taxes in the marine sector and the inclusion of aviation fuel in the barrel tax.
The Rhodium Group’s report Transcending Oil Hawai‘i’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy, April 2018, recommends a carbon tax to achieve clean transportation goals in Hawai‘i.
While the specific mechanisms behind a carbon fee program are not yet outlined, the Commission emphasized the urgent need for such a program, and supports legislation that endeavors to establish one, but also recognizes that any carbon pricing mechanism:
Must be equitable, and appropriate for the people of Hawai‘i.
- Must demonstrate how this is a critical policy tool to protect the future—of Hawaii’s keiki and ‘āina.
- Must be adequate to change behavior.
The Commission recommends carbon pricing mechanisms that minimize regressiveness, which can be pursued through structures such as equity-based tax credits or carbon fee and dividend.
In order to facilitate a carbon pricing program to address carbon pollution, the commission urges the state of Hawai‘i to adequately resource the following actions through legislation or executive action:
- Partner with counties and local organizations to develop and undertake a multi-year educational/public service announcement (PSA) campaign to address the link between the need for a price on carbon, and highlighting the importance of clean transportation in Hawaii—which will increase quality of life, and address climate change impacts by decreasing congestion, commute time and costs, and emissions.
- Explore and develop statewide polices and partner with counties to modernize parking policies and parking management, which will reduce overall emissions, congestion and vehicle miles travelled (VMT) from driving, and increase biking, walking, and transit use, to achieve State goals.
- Transform State and county fleets to address VMT reduction, congestion, and emissions—especially through electrification, renewable fuels, carshare, and supporting infrastructure development and deployment.
- Amend laws, such as the state procurement laws, to better align them with clean transportation priorities.