Committee meets for first time to address climate change, sea level rise

A new committee focused on climate change began work to address what some say is one of the most urgent and long-term threats to our state.

Representatives from more than a dozen state and county agencies formed the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee. They met for the first time on June 3.

They’re tasked with developing a statewide assessment and adaptation report on sea level rise to the state legislature by 2017.

“The goal is to come up with plans that allow communities, beach communities, developed communities, urban communities like Waikiki, to decide how they each want to adapt to climate change, whether it means preserving a beach or retreating from the rising seas,” said Rep. Chris Lee, D, chair of the House committee on energy and environmental protection.

“The vulnerability report is going to identify of the states, what facilities, what infrastructure, what communities are most vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise and that will be mapped, and then as the component to that, we’re then going to decide how to establish some longer-range adaptation measures,” said Sam Lemmo, administrator of DLNR’s Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.

The committee will meet over the next two and a half years, issuing regular updates on its progress and recommendations to combat the negative impacts of sea level rise and other climate change threats.

Scientists say we’re already seeing the effects of climate change in the form of beach erosion.

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