Report: Hawaii’s Emissions Set To Go Below 1990 Levels by 2020

by | Mar 8, 2019

Report: Hawaii’s Emissions Set To Go Below 1990 Levels by 2020

(Photo: A wind farm on Maui. Credit: Kahunapule Michael Johnson, Flickr Creative Commons)

Hawaii is on track to meet the state’s ambitious target of lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by January 1, 2020, a new report from the Hawaii State Department of Health, Clean Air Branch has found. However, there are a few catches.

Back in 2007, the state passed Act 234 establishing a policy framework and requirements to address GHG emissions, the report noted. Under that law, Hawaii sought to achieve emission levels at or below the state’s 1990 levels by next year, excluding airplane emissions.

The new report presents updated emissions estimates for 1990 and 2007, along with inventory estimates for 2010 and 2015, plus projections for 2020 and 2025. GHG emissions estimates came from four sectors: energy, industrial processes and product use (IPPU), agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU), and waste. Energy included emissions from stationary combustion, transportation, incineration of waste, and oil and natural gas systems.

“Based on the analysis presented in this report, net GHG emissions in 2020 (excluding aviation) are projected to be slightly lower than net GHG emissions 1990,” the report says. “These estimates and projections will be reviewed and updated, and presented along with GHG estimates for 2016 and 2017 in forthcoming inventory and projection reports.”

Hawaii Report Comes with Caveats

Although the state appears to be on its way to reaching the 2020 goal, the report authors offered caveats. Hawaii News Now noted that the most recent figures are from 2015. The authors also said that some level of uncertainty in GHG estimates is associated with all emission inventories. Factors include incomplete data, the use of national data when state-specific data were not available, and uncertainty in the scientific understanding of emission pathways.

In May 2018, the state passed what was considered the nation’s most ambitious carbon neutrality goal. At the time, this goal even surpassed that of Rhode Island. Hawaii’s aim: become carbon neutral by 2045.

“We know that bending the curve of emissions down by 2020 gives the world the best opportunity to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Setting ambitious goals works,” Hawaii Governor David Ige said, according to Big Island Now. “This report shows us that Hawaii is on the right track and provides motivation to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

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