One of the key objectives of The National Ocean Policy is to “strengthen resiliency of ocean communities and marine environments…and their abilities to adapt to climate change impacts and ocean acidification.” Disaster avoidance measures would include institutional and governmental measures to reduce risks from coastal hazards.
Benchmark - Where we are now
  • The importance of managing coastal hazards is magnified as more is learned about the effects of climate change, and in particular, sea level rise. Sea level rise will affect all the islands and will impact areas already developed. While the immediacy of this occurrence is not within the next five years, some effect can already be seen and measured. The challenge of identifying and implementing adaptation measures indicated that work needs to begin now.
  • The Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) Coordinated Working Group in collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) prepared the Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawai‘i (2009).
  • Shoreline erosion studies have been completed for Kauaʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu but need to be updated as new information becomes available.
  • The Office of Planning (OP), in consultation with the ORMP Policy Group (the Council on Ocean Resources), and other stakeholders, successfully passed Act 286 (2012), Hawai‘i's climate change adaptation priority guidelines. The Act is codified as Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) Section 226-109, so that it is integrated into Hawaiʻi's statewide planning and land use system.
Target – Where we want to be
  • Build Capacity. Develop best management practices and guidance that integrate HRS Section 226-109, Climate Change Adaptation Priority Guidelines, into county and state decision-making.
  • Additional information on the science and mapping of sea level rise exists and complete sea level rise maps, shoreline erosion studies, and erosion risk maps are completed for every island.
  • A comprehensive and integrated shoreline policy is adopted that addresses the impacts of chronic and episodic coastal hazards. This may or may not involve new or amended state law.
  • Adaptation strategies are identified, which may include retreat zones, prohibition of shoreline armoring, and assessment of impacts on underground infrastructure and utilities.

Develop guidance on how to integrate climate change policy into County Development Plans/Sustainable Community Plans and regulatory permits

The initiative, Building Resilience to Coastal Hazards and Climate Change in Hawai‘i, is currently being co-led by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant and the Office of Planning. The project includes three components related to addressing climate change and coastal hazards, and is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Program, Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

The "Guidelines for Integrating Coastal Resilience into Existing Planning Frameworks" sub-project aims to increase the number of general and community plans and policies that address coastal hazards and climate change impacts. Other components of the initiative include developing a "Web-Based Hazard Exposure and Vulnerability Mapping Tool" including erosion and coastal inundation hazard exposure with sea level rise to improve access to high-resolution geospatial data related to coastal hazards and to support resilience planning, and "Guidelines for Training for Post-Disaster Rebuilding and Recovery" to improve the ability of island communities to prepare for, adapt to, and recover from coastal disasters.

These three sub-projects will increase the resiliency of communities by helping them to better plan for future projections of coastal hazards and climate change.

Learn more about the Office of Planning's climate change resilience efforts here.

Agency: Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program

Image: Getty Images, SOEST Hawai‘i Coastal ErosionNOAA Office for Coastal Management Sea Level Rise Viewer

Increase in the number of state departments completing coastal hazards risk analysis for their facilities 

Learn more about Hawai‘i's coastal hazards and the Office of Planning's efforts to make our coastlines more resilient here.

Agency: Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program

Images: Getty Images, Surf erosion damage to Kamehameha Highway near Ka'a'awa, KITV, Dillingham airfield, State of Hawai‘i

Increase in number of county, general, and community/development plans that include a climate change adaptation component 

Hawai‘i County: 
North and South Kona, South Kohala, Kaʻu
City and County of Honolulu:
North Shore, Waianae, Koolau Poko, ʻEwa
Kaua‘i County:
South Kaua‘i, Lihue
Maui County: 
Kihei-Mākena, Wailuku-Kahului, West Maui

Agency: County Planning Departments 
Image: Inland king tide flooding - Kaka’ako, Oahu, M. Lander 

Creation of greenhouse gas emission rules 

Act 234, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2007, established the state’s policy framework and requirements to address Hawai‘i’s green house gas (GHG) emissions. In Act 234, the legislature recognized the following: “… climate change poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and the environment of Hawai‘i. The potential adverse effects of global warming include a rise in sea levels resulting in the displacement of businesses and residences and the inundation of Hawai‘i’s freshwater aquifers, damage to marine ecosystems.” The focus and general purpose of Act 234 was to achieve cost-effective GHG emissions reductions at or below Hawai‘i’s GHG emissions estimates of 1990 by January 1, 2020.

Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 11-60.1, Air Pollution Control, has been amended effective June 30, 2014. Changes were made in several parts of the chapter. The most notable addition is Sub-chapter 11, Greenhouse Gas Emission, which establishes a GHG regulatory program in Hawai‘i.

In June 2017, Governor Ige signed a bill, Senate Bill (SB) 559, adopting the intergovernmental agreement conceived at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations in December of 2015. The Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted an agreement addressing greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020 . The agreement includes:

(1) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(2) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; and

(3) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

For more information on Hawaii's greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, see the Department of Health (DOH) Environmental Health Webpage. 

Image: Getty Images
Video: '100% Renewable Energy Goals', Governor David Ige

Title Image: NOAA