STATES RIGHTS

Hawaii just became the first US state to turn the Paris agreement climate goals into official state policy

Hawaii didn’t waste any time.

“Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say,” David Ige, Hawaii’s governor, said Tuesday (June 6) just before he signed two bills that put the state in defiance of national policy.

The bills commit Hawaii to meeting the emissions goals the US originally committed to in the Paris agreement, before president Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the country and cease all attempts to fulfill them. The state will also set up a task force dedicated to improving soil health and finding new ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the New York Times reports.

Hawaii has been setting some of the country’s most ambitious climate policies for some time: In 2015, the state passed a bill setting its intention to run on 100% renewable energy by 2045.

This week’s bills make Hawaii the first state to commit, through policy, to the effort to keep the US on track to fulfill its Paris agreement pledge despite the president’s decision. Eleven other US states have joined at least one of several parallel movements to declare their support of the Paris agreement, though none yet but Hawaii have passed legislation to that effect.

States can’t join the Paris agreement as an official party, but the United Nations does have an avenue for sub-national governments and companies to make their pledges known, and participate in the agreement in many of the same ways that nations do. Well over 12,500 sub-national parties have “joined” through this route, using the UN’s Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal.

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