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Looking back at the council climate committee’s first year

COUNCIL'S 3 MINUTES

I thank my colleagues on the Maui County Council for having the vision to create the Climate Action and Resilience Committee just about a year ago and, just as important, helping the committee pass several landmark initiatives throughout 2020.

On July 15, the committee received a presentation on the ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration by University of Hawaii Professor Kamanamaikalani Beamer. He said the declaration embodies the principles of a circular economy.

According to Professor Beamer, the key aspects of a circular economy are:

• A regenerative and equitable economic system.

• The decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation.

• Meaningful work while rejuvenating the environment.

• Keeping materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible while preserving their value.

• Minimization of waste.

Professor Beamer said the values of a circular economy contrast with a linear economy’s principles of “take, make and dispose.” A circular economy’s objective is keeping products and resources in the economy for as long as possible. He advised the transition to a circular economy would aid in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis while preserving natural resources and combating climate change.

On the committee’s recommendation, the council on July 24 adopted Resolution 20-108, “Supporting ‘Aina Aloha Economic Futures Initiative and Transition to a Circular Economy.” More information is available at https://www.ainaalohafutures .com/.

On Sept. 14, the committee reviewed my bill to require that the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions and advisory committees have at least one designated member with relevant environmental experience. The committee concluded that “the planning commissions and any advisory committees will face increasingly difficult decisions when reviewing special management area permit applications and proposed land use ordinances because of climate change, sea level rise and other environmental challenges and would benefit from having at least one designated member with background in conservation, natural resources or climate change,” as explained by Climate Action and Resilience Committee Report 20-117.

Ordinance 5128 took effect Oct. 12. The council will look forward to the mayor’s nominations to fill the designated environmental seats on these important planning bodies.

On Oct. 21, the committee met to discuss U.S. House Resolution 1102, “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to implement an agenda to Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (‘THRIVE’),” and its Senate counterpart (Senate Resolution 693). The resolutions would establish a goal “to build a society that enables”:

• Increased racial, economic, gender and environmental justice.

• Dignified work.

• Healthy communities free from pollution.

• A stable climate.

The committee recommended the council endorse the THRIVE agenda, both locally and nationally. On Nov. 10, the council adopted Resolution 20-160, “Supporting an Agenda to Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy: ‘THRIVE.’ “

The committee met monthly from September through October to discuss amending the Countywide Policy Plan to address climate change, receiving expert advice and support from the Maui County Emergency Management Agency, University of Hawai`i Sea Grant program and Department of Planning. The committee recommended adding “Mitigate Climate Change and Work Toward Resilience Goal” as a theme of the plan, which formally outlines the “preferred future of the community.”

The committee issued a report concluding that “it is essential to focus on the importance of minimizing the causes and negative effects of climate change by grouping the policies under a single theme and goal.” On Dec. 4, the council adopted Resolution 20-170 to send the proposal to the Lanai, Maui and Molokai planning commissions for required review, allowing the council the opportunity to approve the new theme by ordinance after reviewing the commissions’ comments.

I’d also like to thank my colleagues on the 2021-23 council, which took office earlier this month, for installing me as chair of a committee with expanded authority: the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. As seen from the prior committee’s work last year, there will be a lot of work for the CARE Committee to take on throughout this term.

Please tell us what you think Maui County should be doing for the climate and the environment over the next two years by contacting us at CARE.committee@mauicounty.us.

* Kelly Takaya King is chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee. She holds the council seat for the South Maui residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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