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Hawaii's struggle with global warming

by Dava Della, associate Science & Environment editor


If Hawai‘i is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve overall air quality, continued involvement in future efforts is highly needed. Failure to plan and identify such measures may increase global warming in Hawai‘i, with atmospheric pollution increasing from 18,897,590 tons of CO2 to 25,094,245 tons of CO2 by the year 2020. (Source:

Although Hawai‘i accounts for just 0.3 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the threat to overall climate change persists. According to an inventory report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recent figures indicate that Hawai‘i’s transportation sector emitted 2.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 1999. Contributing in large part to these numbers are the many sports utility vehicles sold here in the state.

In 1999, Pacific Business News published a list of the 20 best-selling automobiles and light trucks in Hawai‘i for the model year 1998. Ford Explorer, ranked No. 13, and Jeep Wrangler, ranked No. 18. These vehicles emitted about 5.3 tons of CO2 per 10,000 miles, compared to the year’s top-selling model, the Dodge/Plymouth Neon, which emitted 3.1 tons of CO2 per 10,000 miles. Clearly, larger automobiles are major contributing forces to the problem of global warming.

The 2000 Hawai‘i Energy Strategy Report, released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, recommends the following to those committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Hawai‘i:

• Petition state lawmakers to encourage local auto dealers and rental car agencies to use electric vehicles. The Hawai‘i Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project (HEVDP) has deployed more than 40 electric vehicles—pickup trucks, automobiles, and buses—for military and state use.
• Speak to state Department of Transportation officials about increasing the use of mass transit—city buses, vanpools (ride-sharing programs), and water ferries—as well as improving the bicycle transportation system (safer riding lanes and bike paths).
• Join a local coalition group specialized in addressing and solving critical environmental issues.


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