(City and County of Honolulu) City initiates “Climate Ready O‘ahu” adaptation strategy; welcomes resident participation and engagement via on-line tools launched today

Climate change risks include increasing temperatures, changes in precipitation including “rain bombs,” and sea level rise and sunny day flooding during king tides, among others climate shocks and stresses.
Image credits clockwise from top right: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawai‘i Sea Grant King Tides Project, City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation Division of Urban Forestry.

HONOLULU — The City and County of Honolulu (City) Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency launched “Climate Ready Oahu” today, inviting community participation to help shape a first ever overall climate adaptation strategy for our island.

“As an elected leader and a father, I take climate change seriously and want to do everything I can to help to protect our residents from climate risks coming our way,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “As we work on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, we still need to keep an eye on the horizon and take the steps now to reduce risk, and help us thrive as a community for years to come.”

A community effort to adapt to climate change impacts is different and distinct from an effort to slow or stop climate change from occurring. A “Climate Action Plan” lays out the path to reducing carbon pollution from fossil fuels that are the cause of global heating. A “climate adaptation strategy” is much different: it lays out how communities have to change to protect themselves from larger storms and other impacts that are coming our way as a result of climate change already underway. The development of a specific Climate Ready O‘ahu adaptation strategy was identified by the community as a key priority, and listed as Action #28 in the recent O‘ahu Resilience Strategy. Climate Ready O‘ahu will include:

  •  Developing global heating hazard risk assessments and exposure maps;
  • Evaluating global heating impacts on infrastructure, assets, and populations;
  •  Developing climate change approaches for the Development and Sustainable Communities Plans, department functional plans, and the Multi-Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan;
  •  Determining concrete steps for communities and City agencies to take that address high priority risks; and
  •  Ensuring that climate change and equity concerns are integrated into decision-making processes.

“This Climate Ready O‘ahu strategy is essentially a roadmap to living safely on this island, but it will only be as strong as the community knowledge that helps draw it,” said Josh Stanbro, Chief Resilience Officer and Executive Director of the City’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. “Just like COVID-19, climate change is an all-hands-on-deck moment—and one agency or one community can’t do it alone. We are hoping to learn what the community wants to protect, and the best way to do it together as we face mounting storms, floods, and heatwaves.”

The historic fires on the west coast of the continental United States, unprecedented hurricane activity in the gulf coast, and a resurgence of drought conditions here in Hawai‘i have all put climate change risk back on the radar for residents even as global populations continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Island-wide adaptation strategies are critical for protecting communities that are experiencing climate impacts now. While reducing our greenhouse gas emissions will lessen future consequences, our lack of collective action up to now means that we are locked into the negative impacts from our past emissions for the next few decades,” said Dr. Victoria Keener, Chair of the City Climate Change Commission. “Get involved! The many opportunities for public input and participation in shaping this plan will help ensure that the burdens and benefits of climate adaptation are more equitably shared.”

To learn more about the project timeline and to participate in a resident survey, please visit www.climatereadyoahu.org. Community-wide learning sessions will also be held by the City and all residents are welcome to attend on-online and engage. First and second round virtual engagements will be held:

  • Round 1: Wednesday October 21, 2pm-3:30pm; Thursday October 22, 6pm-7:30pm; and Saturday October 24, 10:30am-12pm
  • Round 2: Monday November 2, 6pm-7:30pm; Friday November 6, 10:30am-12pm; and Saturday November 7, 10:30am-12pm.

*Engagements will be held online via Zoom. Each round offers three dates and times to accommodate participants’ varying availabilities/preferences. Interested participants need only attend one meeting per each round.

The Climate Ready O‘ahu website at www.climatereadyoahu.org features a “Learn” page that presents an interactive representation of climate science from the City Climate Change Commission’s 2018 “Climate Change Brief,” which all are encouraged to explore, particularly students and teachers. Website visitors can also explore the O‘ahu Heat Vulnerability Map Series, which reminds us that climate change impacts include more than just coastal hazards and flooding and drought, but also the current and increasing stresses of rising temperatures. 

Lastly, the Resilience Office and the Honolulu Land Information System (HoLIS) Division of the Department of Planning and Permitting created the Climate Ready O‘ahu Web Explorer bringing together multiple climate risk data into one map viewer to facilitate community learning and for use by residents, businesses, and City staff.  This is also available at the project’s “Learn” page or directly at bit.ly/climatereadyoahumap.

After incorporating community input in several phases and utilizing technical experts to identify key areas of risk, the Climate Ready O‘ahu adaptation strategy is anticipated to be completed in September 2021.

—PAU—

Brandi Higa

Information Officer

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

C: (808) 321-0690

brandi.higa@honolulu.gov

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