Hawaii makes history as first US state to declare a climate emergency

Louise Boyle
·2-min read
The remains of trees destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Lane in 2018 in Hilo, Hawaii. The state is the first to declare a climate emergency (Getty Images)
The remains of trees destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Lane in 2018 in Hilo, Hawaii. The state is the first to declare a climate emergency (Getty Images)

Hawaii will announce a climate emergency on Thursday, becoming the first US state to do so.

The state legislature was set to pass a resolution which will declare that climate change poses a risk to humanity and the environment.

The document requests statewide collaboration toward an “immediate, just transition and emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate”.

The resolution was introduced by Democratic State Senator Mike Gabbard, father of former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

The Hill reported that Sen Gabbard’s resolution has received unanimous support in the state legislature.

“Climate is an emergency in all 50 states. Hawaii just became the first US state to acknowledge it,” tweeted the Massachusetts chapter of climate movement 350,org.

While Hawaii is the first state to declare a climate emergency, some 1,943 emergency declarations have been made in 34 countries and the European Union, according to the Climate Mobilization Project.

According to the figures, there have been 144 declarations below the state level, representing 12 per cent of the country. The first climate emergency was declared by Hoboken, New Jersey on November 1, 2017.

Hawaii is an archipelago consisting of eight major islands, several atolls and a number of smaller islets, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean more than 2,000 miles from the California coast. Climate scientists say that more frequent and powerful storms will batter the islands in the coming years.

Extreme rain will not only damage the land but poses increased risk to Hawaii’s coral reefs, critical to the state’s ecosystem and economy.

The coral reefs protect its populated shorelines from massive ocean swells and surges from tropical storms — a benefit the US Geological Survey valued at more than $860 million a year.

Adding tourism, fishing, cultural value and other factors, the state’s reefs are worth more than$33bn, according to a NOAA-funded study.

The AP contributed to this report

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