To address Hawaii’s vulnerability to climate change, the state has taken what advocates say is a key step toward responding to coastal flooding, erosion and decreased supplies of fresh water.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 1714, now known as Act 83, to fund the collaboration of various Hawaii agencies and community members to gather information on areas of the state that will be most affected by sea level rise.

“I believe that this bill today provides a road map for Hawaii to be able to deal with the questions of climate change and global warming” Abercrombie said at the June 9 bill signing at Waikiki Aquarium.

Gov. Abercrombie signs HB 1714 into law at the Waikiki Aquarium on June 9.

Office of the Governor

That “road map” would create an interagency committee of county and community representatives, overseen by DLNR and the Hawaii State Office of Planning, to assess and make recommendations about how best to prepare for rising sea levels and their secondary effects. The committee is required to issue a report that will be available to the public before the end of 2017.

This isn’t the first time a climate adaptation bill was proposed in Hawaii.  In 2009, SB 266 proposed the creation of a climate change taskforce that would perform many of the same functions as HB 1714, but would focus more generally on assessing the broad effects of climate change. SB 266 was never funded.

With the governor’s signature, HB 1714 will be funded, noted Richard Wallsgrove, the Blue Planet Foundation’s program manager, and that should make all the difference.

“This bill has really taken the bull by the horns because it’s got the funding,” he said.

While the new law formally creates the committee, it isn’t entirely clear …

Loading Hawaii Governor Signs Law to Study Rising Seas

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