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by Louise Wilson
06 November 2021
Don’t wait for national governments to act on climate change, urges Hawaii governor

Credit: Nelly George / Alamy Stock Photo

Don’t wait for national governments to act on climate change, urges Hawaii governor

Small nations and sub-national governments have been urged to do what they can on climate action at the final day of Holyrood’s COP26 Fringe Festival.

Governor of Hawaii David Ige said it was important not to wait for national governments to take decisions if it was possible to do so at other levels of government.

Speaking of his own experience in the United States, Ige said: “If we were to wait for the country to adopt the progressive action that is needed, we may be waiting forever.”

He recalled that when Hawaii adopted legislation in 2015 setting the aim to have 100 per cent renewable energy, other governors in the US thought he was “crazy”.

And while admitting that aim was “a hope and a wish” at the time, he said: “Technology and innovation solved that problem, the cost of solar powers plummeted ten-fold, same thing with solar batteries. Today, a solar project is more cost efficient that burning fossil fuel.”

The governor also told the room about the impacts of climate change on Hawaii’s natural environment, which was seeing increased rainfall, wildfires and the bleaching of coral reefs.

“In Hawaii we've probably had five 100-year events occur in the last five years… We are seeing its impacts virtually every day in the islands,” he said.

Australian environment minister David Speirs argued it was possible to use the impact on nature to bring communities into the wider climate conversation.

He also called for local governments to do more, saying many levers of change sit at council level and therefore there was a lot of “immediate action” they could take. He added: “Local government has a huge amount of opportunity to drive change.”

Nesta Scotland’s Adam Lang agreed and urged all levels of government to create an “enabling environment” for citizens to do their bit for the planet.

On what the Scottish Government could do, Lang said: “We have all the tools at our disposal that we need, we know that in Scotland right now, we know what we need to do… Sometimes we do create these barriers for ourselves.”

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