Hawaii is the first US state to declare a climate emergency through legislation that addresses the risks to humanity and the environment.
The document requests statewide collaboration towards an “immediate, just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate”. It has received unanimous support in the state legislature.
Hawaii is the first state to do this, but there have been 144 declarations made below state level across the US, according to the Climate Mobilisation Project. In international terms, 1,943 emergency declarations have been made in 34 countries and the European Union.
Climate change is a particular concern for Hawaii. The islands are at particular risk of rising sea levels and powerful storms coming across the Pacific Ocean, which can cause damage to both the islands and their coral reefs. These reefs are significant as they naturally protect the shorelines from ocean surges. They also contain coastal artifacts, marine species and delicate ecosystems that are damaged by increasingly acidic and polluted seawater.
Hawaii’s natural beauty is also a huge draw for tourists. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, 2019 saw 10.4 million people visit the islands, bringing vital economic growth. Rebuilding and maintaining the profits of the tourism industry will require the islands’ natural landscapes to be protected from the effects of climate change.
You can find a list of Hawaiian environmental groups to support here.