July 15th, 2020
Policy , Press Release
HONOLULU—Hawaii has an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine its recovery and future through a climate, resilience, and equity lens, according to a new document released today by the Blue Planet Foundation. The report, called “Waypoints,” outlines 50 actionable initiatives that foster economic growth, create new jobs, grow state revenue, ensure equitable access and affordability, accelerate our transition to 100% clean energy, and address climate change.
“There are moments in history where we have fundamentally changed course,” said Melissa Miyashiro, Blue Planet’s Managing Director or Strategy and Policy. “We are in the midst of such a moment. Collectively, these waypoints will help guide us to a more secure, healthy, just, and sustainable future.”
Waypoints presents a portfolio of policies and programs to help Hawaii recover economically and grow quality jobs while we accelerate our transition to a 100% clean energy future. Blue Planet’s intention is to help shape the state’s recovery in a way that is informed by the values of Hawaii while being responsive to our urgent climate challenge.
“As we are confronted with tough choices about how best to proceed, we have the incredible opportunity to reimagine what is possible for our state and our collective future,” said Jeff Mikulina, Blue Planet’s Executive Director. “How do we truly build an economy around the pillars of resiliency, equitability, and sustainability? How do we guide our recovery toward growth that is efficient, innovative, and creates meaningful jobs?”
Because energy—for mobility, electricity, air travel—is the lifeblood of the islands’ economy, Blue Planet believes it makes sense to leverage the transition to clean energy for systemic change. “Hawaii’s best opportunities for a sustainable recovery come from playing to our strengths,” added Mikulina. “We have renewable energy in abundance, and not one drop of fossil fuels.”
More broadly, Waypoints seeks to explore how can Hawaii use its position and image to model and leverage change needed globally. “The world is undergoing a massive transformation to clean energy, and Hawaii is perfectly placed to be a model for the globe,” added Miyashiro. “Just as Hawaii’s first-in-the-nation 100% renewable energy law inspired other states to set bold clean energy targets, a low-carbon recovery in Hawai‘i can catalyze innovative recovery efforts that empower communities worldwide to thrive.”
While many recovery efforts have focused rightfully on steering federal stimulus funds to needed local social and economic issues, Waypoints aims to complement those discussions by highlighting actions that are fully within Hawaii’s purview—initiatives that can be established at the state, county, business, or community level.
The 50 actions in Waypoints are categorized into seven areas:
All together, Waypoints offers of menu of actionable policies and programs across various levels of scale and reach. Some of the initiatives discussed in Waypoints are quite broad in their reach, such as the proposals to redevelop the state’s visitor industry through the frame of “clean energy islands” and a pledge for the hospitality industry to be “carbon-free by 2030.” Others are focused and specific, such as the policy initiative to allow for automatic variances to county height restrictions for solar energy devices below three feet—something those in the solar industry say would allow for hundreds of immediate new solar installations (with accompanying jobs). All are framed through a rebuilding perspective, as Hawaii embarks on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blue Planet is clear to state that the document seeks to contribute to the ongoing conversation about Hawaii’s recovery—it’s not an exhaustive plan. “We share these concepts with humility and an understanding that durable progress requires collective conversation. We welcome that conversation, critique, and collaboration,” said Miyashiro.
Some other actions in Waypoints include:
“Each proposed action, or Waypoint, is built around the core idea that our low-carbon future is not at odds with a vibrant economy, rather it’s a precursor for it,” said Miyashiro.
Blue Planet plans to work with lawmakers, community members, and other stakeholders over the next six months to discuss and refine the various waypoints leading up to next year’s state legislative session.
“The pull to return to ‘business as usual’ will be strong in the coming months and years,” said Mikulina. “The ‘pause’ created by the COVID pandemic invites us to reflect deeply about the world we wish to create, for our families and for our future. We wish to present a better path forward and be propelled onto it with newfound momentum.”
The full Blue Planet Waypoints report is available at waypointshawaii.org.