Thursday, April 6, 2017

Climate Change Office on City's Budget Agenda

The City & County of Honolulu is considering the Mayor’s proposed budget.

The Mayor’s budget includes staff and funding for the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency that was created by voters in the recent City Charter amendment process.  

The agenda for next Tuesday’s Special Budget Committee meeting has been posted.  Click on Bill 25 (agenda item #5) to view the budget request.  The agenda includes information on how to submit testimony.  I used the electronic option.  Here is what I sent:

Dear Chair Manahan and Committee Members:

Please support the budget request of the Mayor regarding the staffing and funding for the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency.

As you know, the voters of Oahu overwhelmingly approved amending the City Charter to create the Office. Serving as the initial chair for the Charter Commission, one of the first substantive issues for consideration brought before the Commission was the impact of climate change on the people of Oahu.

Experts on the matter from the University of Hawaii showed how Hawaii will be uniquely impacted by climate change. The issue is not only sea-level rise, which is easy enough to observe for people who grew up in the islands, but also the following:

  • Recorded warming air temperature in Hawaii has quadrupled in the last 40 years,
  • Hawaii has seen an overall decline in rainfall in the last 30 years,
  • Sea surface temperatures have warmed, and
  • Global ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent.

These local impacts are stressing the ability of our environment to protect us from storm events, to feed us, and to keep us healthy. It is killing our reefs and eroding our beaches, which support our number one economic engine, tourism. The future is bleak, unless we take actions to understand the threat, address our weaknesses and strengths, and begin to strategically invest in making our communities resilient in a post-climate change future.

The issue of climate change is multidimensional, and will require a coordinated effort across agencies, programs, and branches of government. The Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency is intended to serve that purpose and should be given the resources it needs to accomplish this important task. If done right, the work of the Office will undoubtedly benefit current and future generations.

Thank you for your consideration and your difficult task of preparing our City’s budget.

Jesse K. Souki

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