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DLNR News Release-Sea Level Rise Report Accepted by New State Climate Commission

Posted on Dec 29, 2017 in Latest Department News

Mandated by the Legislature it Provides Technical Path Forward for Adapting

(HONOLULU) – The Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) has accepted its first major report since its formation last fall. The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report is a comprehensive 304-page-long description of where Hawai‘i is today and where we will be in the future as sea level rise (SLR) increases with global warming.

The report, developed under the leadership of the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL), was initially mandated by Act 83 in 2014 and was expanded by Act 32 in 2017 and provides the first state-wide assessment of Hawai‘i’s vulnerability to sea level rise. It includes recommendations to reduce exposure to sea level rise along with recommendations to increase our capacity to adapt.

Initiated under the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee (ICAC), which then morphed into the Climate Commission, the SLR report provides recommendations to improve our resiliency to sea level rise based on a combination of advanced planning practices and risk exposure reduction initiatives which were framed through extensive stakeholder consultations over a three year period.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case co-chairs the Climate Commission with State Office of Planning Director Leo Asuncion. Case said, “While the SLR report focuses on sea level rise vulnerabilities and adaptation, it should also strengthen Hawai‘i’s resolve to do our part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with Act 32 and the Paris Agreement.” Asuncion commented, “This report is intended to serve as a framework for identifying and managing other climate change threats facing Hawai‘i.” The SLR report was completed in advance of the Dec. 31, 2017 deadline.

The report’s executive summary states, “Shorelines are one of our planet’s most dynamic physical features and Hawai‘i’s are no exception. Communities along our shores have flourished for centuries in harmony with the ebb and flow of the tides, punctuated by the occasional devastating hurricane or tsunami event. However, rapid warming of the atmosphere and oceans, caused by two centuries of unabated carbon emissions, is causing increasing rates of sea level rise, unprecedented in human history, threatening natural environments and development on low-lying coasts.”
The authors of the report note that much of what happens with future SLR depends on the ability or inability of nations to implement aggressive carbon emissions reductions, envisioned through the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Hawaii and a group of 16 US States are part of a US Climate Alliance that is honoring the US commitment, made under President Barak Obama, to reduce its carbon emissions under the guidelines of the Paris Agreement.

The report is available for viewing at the web address listed below. Additionally DLNR is releasing a one-half-hour television special, Rising Seas in Hawai‘i, in mid-January. It is scheduled for three broadcasts on KFVE-TV (K5) at 7:00 p.m. on January 17th, at 9:30 p.m. on January 20th, and at 4:00 p.m. on January 21st. The special chronicles the stories of people and places already dealing with sea level rise and features some of the adaptation recommendations included in the Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report.

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Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report:
Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report SUGGESTED CITATION: Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission. 2017. Hawaiʻi Sea Level …

Videos of Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission meeting Dec. 21, 2017:
Climate Commission Meetings – Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation …
Past Meeting Agendas & Videos for the Former Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee (ICAC) September 27, 2016. AGENDA: Open Meeting; Climate Change Legislative Update

Hawai‘i Climate Adaptation Portal:
Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Portal
Pili Na Mea A Pau All Things Are Related. In 2016, Govenor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact …

Media Contact:
Dan Dennison
Senior Communications Manager
Hawaii Dept. of Land & Natural Resources
Communications Office
(808) 587-0407