PODCAST: UN report highlights ‘urgency’ to implement Hawaii’s climate action plan

The United Nations released a new report Monday, offering new data on what could happen if and when the earth continues to see a rise in temperature.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 2:53 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The United Nations is giving out a stark warning about climate change after the release of a report detailing what could happen if and when the Earth continues to see a rise in temperature.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the world needs to slash nearly two-thirds of carbon pollution by 2035 to avoid the worst of climate change — from severe storms, drought and other environmental impacts.

In addition, the United Nations chief called for an end to new fossil fuel exploration and for rich countries to quit coal, oil and gas by 2040.

While the impacts of climate change affect us all, to further understand what this report means for people living in Hawaii, Matthew Gonser, chief resilience officer and executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, joined HNN’s Repairing Earth podcast to break down this data.

“Maybe 1.5 degrees Celsius may not sound like a big deal, but if you added 1.5 degrees onto our normal, healthy internal temperature, we’d have a fever over 101,” Gonser said.

“So that 1.5 degrees is almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit and that can cause all sorts of impacts — changes from mauka to makai, heating of the ocean, impacting coral reefs, heating up the upper levels of our mountains, allowing more mosquitos and invasive species to climb higher impacting our native plants and animals.”

The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, and scientists are stressing a sense of urgency as we approach the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which was adopted as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Following the release of the report, Gonser said both the city and the state are working to implement the current climate action plan to combat this ever-growing issue.

“This is not just a one and done plan, we are actually required to update the plan every five years recognizing where we are trying to go, but we need these near-term steps to assess, learn, course-correct and double down on the things that are needed to be done,” Gonser said.

To learn more about the city’s climate action plan or for resources on how you can be a part of the solution, click here.

For more on the conversation, listen to Episode 15 of Repairing Earth, “UN report highlights ‘urgency’ in taking swift action,” on the HNN website or anywhere you get your podcasts.