Redevelop and Reinforce Essential Infrastructure
Climate change is very real. We’re already starting to feel the first effects of climate change and its impacts will increase at a rate relative to our (humankind’s) level of contribution. We, unfortunately cannot stop climate change, but we CAN certainly prepare for it. And we definitely should.
Taking a precautionary approach to the negative impacts of climate change has been a concern of mine for quite some time. When I was studying for my juris doctor at William S. Richardson School of Law, I had focused my attention on international environmental law and energy justice in order to get a better understanding of what Hawai‘i needed to do in order to prepare. Recent weather impacts, like the unprecedented flooding on the island of Kaua‘i and the extraordinarily high King Tides on O‘ahu have evidenced our precautionary need.
Our current essential infrastructure (water, food, energy, transportation, sewage) is insufficient to handle the most unprecedented effects of climate change. We have an infrastructure crisis. I strongly believe the State of Hawai‘i needs to prioritize the redevelopment and reinforcement of essential infrastructure. This is an investment in us – the people of Hawai‘i.
The cost associated with such a plan will be in the billions of dollars. Finding ways to raise the necessary funds for infrastructure redevelopment and reinforcement without increasing the tax burden on Hawai‘i residents will be incredibly difficult – however, I am committed to finding a way.
As far as fundraising ideas go, some immediate options include: public-private partnerships (e.g. I-Banks, private investment); bond sales; charging non-stifling levies on new commercial development; and increasing the transient accommodations tax (TAT). Increasing the TAT isn’t a favorable position for our tourism sector, but redeveloping essential infrastructure and developing infrastructure designed to increase resilience/protection will also benefit our tourism sector.
Investing in the redevelopment and reinforcement of our essential infrastructure isn’t something we can put off for a later time – we’re already far behind schedule. We should act now in order to prevent burdening future generations with an impossible recovery. We need to adapt to Climate Change.