Written by: Kimberly White

The state of Hawaii has made history as the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency. The state Legislature has passed Senate Resolution SCR44, which declares that the climate emergency is a threat to humanity and the natural world. 

Introduced by Senator Mike Gabbard, the non-binding resolution recognizes the climate emergency as an existential threat to humanity and calls for statewide collaboration to “restore a safe climate.”  

The resolution requests that the state commits to “a just transition toward a decarbonized economy that invests in and ensures clean energy, quality jobs, and a statewide commitment to a climate emergency mobilization effort to reverse the climate crisis.”

“Every day we wait to take action is another day lost. The climate crisis is a clear and present threat for both current and future generations,” said Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition’s Advocacy Director, Dyson Chee. “This is why we are thankful for the passage of SCR44, and the recognition by the Hawaii State Legislature that climate change is an emergency that needs to be dealt with accordingly.”

The resolution received unanimous support in the Senate and received just one “nay” in the House. 

“I’m stoked that the Legislature took this action to declare the climate emergency,” said Senator Gabbard. “This makes us the first Legislature in our country to do so, and it’s very important to the state’s leadership nationally and internationally.”

“Hopefully, other states will get on board and pass similar legislation to SCR44 in their respective states,” Gabbard added.

Hawaii joins a growing group of cities, municipalities, states, and countries that have already declared a climate emergency. Similar declarations were declared by the Hawaii County Council and Maui County Council in 2019.

According to the Climate Mobilization Project, there have been more than 1,900 declarations spanning 34 countries, including New Zealand, Bangladesh, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In 2020, 226 South Korean local governments joined together to declare a climate emergency at the Korean National Assembly.

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