Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot aspirations?

Bryan Walsh, in this week's (July 21, 2008) issue of Time Magazine, makes an important point about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in his brief on the recent G-8 Summit. He writes that President Bush's pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2050 is not as lofty as it seems. For one thing, there is no baseline year. Are we talking about 50% of 1990 levels, as proposed by the Europeans, or 50% of present day levels, as desired by the Japanese? That's a big difference.

Our goal in Hawaii is much more concrete. It is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at or below the 1990 level by January 1, 2020. According to legislation passed in 2007 and enacted as Act 234, SLH, here's the timetable for accomplishing this goal:

By December 31, 2008, the Department of Health shall have completed an updated inventory of emission sources and categories of sources.

By December 1, 2009, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Task Force shall have prepared the required work plan and regulatory scheme. This year, the legislature appropriated $140,000 for FY2008-2009 to a temporary, full-time Task Force Program Manager, and Project Assistant/Researcher positions. The bill, HB2507, Act 235, became law without the Gov's signature.

By December 31, 2011, the Department of Health shall have adopted rules to establish emission limits by be achieved by January 1, 2020.

The legislature appropriated $500,000 to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism to carry out the responsibilites of the measure, including hiring of staff.

Back to G-8, while the 8 members (the world's richest nations) agreed to this somewhat vague target, developing nations such as China and India did not. However, Walsh comments that "next year we will have a new and more environmental President, and the ground is set for substantial negotiations. But we won't get back eight lost years of White House indifference and interference on climate."

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