The information below summarizes actions taken by Hawai'i to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Hawai'i has not yet adopted an official statewide adaptation plan, however, the state legislature has called for adaptation planning and state agencies have undertaken other efforts to assess climate vulnerabilities and identify adaptation strategies, described here.

On June 9, 2014, Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 1714 (now Act 83) establishing an Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee charged with developing a sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation report addressing statewide impacts through 2050. In 2017, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 559 that renamed the Adaptation Committee as the Hawai'i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (“Commission”). The Commission is charged with developing vulnerability and adaptation reports on the effects of sea-level rise and leading the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with goals set out in the Paris Agreement. In addition to setting goals and strategies for both mitigation and adaptation, the Commission is charged with identifying climate vulnerabilities across all sectors in Hawai'i; assessing existing efforts and capacity of existing resources to address goals; and tracking and reporting on implementation progress.

Vulnerability Assessment and Planning

In December 2017, the Commission released the Hawai'i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report. This report represents the first state-wide vulnerability assessment for sea-level rise hazards in Hawai'i and provides statewide adaptation recommendations to reduce Hawai'i’s exposure to sea-level rise and to increase the state’s resilience to coastal hazards.

State Agency Actions

State agencies have also been working to prepare for climate impacts to specific sectors:

  • In December 2015, the Hawai'i Climate Change and Health Working Group released its Preliminary Report and Recommendations for addressing climate impacts to public health. The report provides an introduction to the specific impacts that climate change is anticipated to have on public health in Hawai'i (including exacerbating respiratory and cardiac problems, heat-related morbidity and mortality, cancer risks, mental health-related impacts, vector-, food- and water-borne diseases and nutritional/food and water security issues). The report also includes recommendations for how the state can develop comprehensive and coordinated adaptation strategies for the state’s public health system.   
  • In July 2013, the state incorporated considerations of climate change, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification in the Hawai'i Ocean Resources Management Plan, which is the statewide plan that presents the state’s ocean and coastal resource management priorities. The plan includes management priorities for addressing coastal hazards that will be exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise, including recommendations that the state: support adoption of county laws incorporating best practices for reducing risks from climate impacts and coastal hazards; complete coastal mapping of coastal erosion and sea-level rise; support county and state efforts to develop climate change risk analyses and adaptation strategies for public facilities; and develop indicators for measuring state progress in achieving coastal management goals.

State Legislative Actions

The state legislature has also adopted adaptation priorities to guide adaptation activities at the state level. In July 2012, the Hawai'i legislature passed SB 2745/HB 2483, which sets climate change adaptation priority guidelines for integrating climate adaptation into statewide planning processes. The law establishes the following adaptation priorities: exploring adaptation strategies that moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities in response to actual or expected climate change impacts to the natural and built environments; promoting sector resilience (in areas such as water, roads, airports, and public health) by encouraging the identification of climate change threats, assessment of potential consequences, and evaluation of adaptation options; using adaptive management approaches; and encouraging planning and management of natural and built environments that consider climate change.

The state legislature has also enacted laws to provide financial resources to support adaptation efforts. In 2015, the legislature passed House Bill 444 — An Act Relating to Beach Protection — to allocate $3,000,000 of hotel tax revenues to a special fund supporting the development and implementation of plans to slow the degradation of Hawai'i’s beaches; beach restoration and conservation efforts; the coordination of activities across counties; and the formation of public-private partnerships. The legislation allows the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources to include studies about the effects of sea-level rise when developing beach conservation plans. In 2010, through Hawai'i Act 73, the state legislature also established the “environmental response, energy, and food security tax,” otherwise known as the “barrel tax,” to provide resources for addressing the effects of climate change in the state. Act 73 increased the per-barrel tax on petroleum products and created a fund for clean energy, agriculture, and adaptation initiatives in Hawai'i.

To support local and private sector adaptation efforts, the state has developed an Adaptation Portal to provide information to the public about the impacts of climate change, and adaptation strategies and tools.

 

This page highlights the actions Hawai'i is taking to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Hawai'i prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in preparing for the impacts of climate change, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

(Research last updated: August 22, 2018).



 
 
 

State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
HI SB 559: Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Law and Governance June 1, 2017
Hawaii HB 444 - An Act Relating to Beach Protection: Transient Accommodations Tax; Special Land and Development Fun; Appropriation” Law and Governance July 1, 2015
Hawaii Climate Adaptation Initiative Act (HB 1714, Act 83) Law and Governance June 9, 2014
Hawaii Act 286 - Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines (HI SB 2745/HB 2483) Law and Governance July 9, 2012
Hawaii Act 73: Environmental response, energy and food security tax Law and Governance April 29, 2010

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land management and conservation, Oceans July 2013

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
Kaua’i Shoreline Setback Ordinance (No. 979, Bill 2461, 2014) December 5, 2014
Facing Our Future: Adaptive Planning for Sea Level Rise in Maui and Hawaii Counties July 2012

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
Hawaiian Islands Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Synthesis Assessments January 28, 2018
Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report Assessments December 29, 2017
2015 Preliminary Report and Recommendations from the Hawaii Climate Change and Health Working Group Planning December 2015
Hawaii Climate Adaptation Portal Adaptation Websites November 2015
Climate Change and the Pacific Islands: Indicators and Impacts Assessments December 2012
A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii Planning November 2009
Shoreline Impacts, Setback Policy and Sea Level Rise - Hawaii Law and Governance April 2009
 

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