BREAKING NEWS: Mayor Caldwell and Honolulu City Council announces its intent to sue the carbon barons

The City Council will be considering the resolution to authorize lawsuit on Tuesday, November 12. They need our support—TURN OUT to the meeting and show your support. Details here.

Hawai‘i is at the top of the leaderboard in the fight against climate change. Join our mission to save the planet and our island way of life. 

Our close knit communities, down to earth mindsets, and authentic values make Hawaiʻi best suited to model the best climate saving policies because we are island people, we care about our neighbors, and we are experienced in living within our limits as the most isolated islands on the planet. The people of Hawaiʻi are creative, tenacious, and genuine. The world is looking to us and we are up for the challenge. It is our classic, grounded way of living that will lead our islands and beyond into a clean and equitable climate future.

Our mission: A comfortable, livable planet with a stable climate and equitable society. Along the way we will adapt to the climate changes we are already seeing, mitigate what is yet to come, and leave no being behind.

Levels achieved 

Big change is possible—we’ve seen it over the years, locally and globally, and we know our communities are capable of great things. History has taught us that big societal changes don’t come quickly or easily but every step—every protest, call, strike, letter, boycott, testimony, shift in consciousness—brings us closer toward our shared goal. Part of leveling up is celebrating and acknowledging past victories, highlights include:

These struggles—and their wins—have set a foundation for continual growth and change.

It’s now up to us to level up.

Meet the Villains: Carbon barons

Big oil and gas knew as early as 1968 that their products would cause destructive, global changes in climate.

Instead of acting for the greater good of humanity, the carbon barons chose not to act on climate change so they could continue to grow their fortunes. They doubled down on oil, gas, and coal production and spent millions to:

(All the while receiving massive government subsidies…while earning billions of dollars a year.)

 

The Challenge: Cost of climate change

The economic impacts directly and indirectly due to climate change. Costs such as, but definitely not limited to: infrastructure repair, relocation, and/or new construction, severe weather event preparation and/or recovery.

 

Bottom line: the costs of preparing for the worst of climate change and mitigating the impacts that are already here are extraordinary, although vital. We must ensure the safety, health, and wellbeing of all of Hawaiʻi’s communities are taken care of as we mitigate and adapt to the new climate. 

The carbon barons made billions of dollars off of the demise of our environment and communities. They knew exactly what their products would do to the health of all and they used their power and money to lie to decision makers, the government, and the people. This is not ethical nor fair. The carbon barons deceived us for their own profit while leaving us to suffer the worst effects of climate change. 

We should not have to pay for the costs of climate change alone. The carbon barons caused this and they should be held accountable.

JUST IN: Mayor Caldwell and members of the Honolulu City Council announce their intent to sue the fossil fuel industry

The City & County of Honolulu announced their intent to file suit against the fossil fuel industry for deceiving people about the known dangers of climate change and the resulting costs on Oʻahu’s taxpayers. Honolulu joins Maui County and dozens of other counties, municipalities, and states across the US that have filed similar climate liability lawsuits.

SHOW THE COUNCIL YOUR SUPPORT (RSVP HERE):

  • Turn out and submit testimony to the City Council Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee online here
    • Meeting date: November 12, 2019, 1pm
    • Council/PH Committee: Executive Matters and Legal Affairs
    • Agenda item: Reso 19-283
    • Your position on the matter: Support
    • Representing: Self
    • Sample testimony:
      “Aloha Chair Menor and members of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, 

I am writing to you today in support of Resolution 19-283, to file proactive litigation against the fossil fuel industry to recover climate crisis-related costs.

The fossil fuel industry knew their products would lead to the climate crisis and they chose to lie to shareholders, lawmakers, and the people about the dangers their products would cause. Because of their deception and inaction, Oʻahu now faces billions of dollars in adaptation and loss of critical land and infrastructure. Oʻahu’s government and taxpayers should not be left to pay for climate-related damages alone. 

I support the City hiring expert attorneys that know all the details about this area of law and will only be paid if they win the lawsuit on our collective behalf.  

Filing this lawsuit is the next reasonable step to take, given all that we know about what this industry has done to our climate. Holding the fossil fuel industry responsible will help offset the costs to Oʻahu’s people. 

Thank for the opportunity to testify on this important matter. 

Sincerely,”

In response to Mayor Caldwell’s announcement, the Sierra Club Oʻahu Group has released this statement:

“Decades of deceit by the fossil fuel industry bolstered their mammoth profits, and now the climate crisis has global citizens fighting against our own extinction,” said Hunter Heaivilin, Chair of the Sierra Club Oʻahu Group. “Our island already feels the brunt of climate-related impacts,  from shrinking beaches to a marathon of record heat days. Sadly, we will all be paying for climate change for decades to come. It is only fair that those corporations that lied about it be made to pay their share, as well.” 

Maui County announces intent to file suit against fossil fuel industry

On October 29, Maui County announced its intent to file a lawsuit to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for their role in the climate crisis. For over fifty years, the fossil fuel industry knew that their products—oil, gas and coal—would cause detrimental impacts to the world’s climate. Instead of acting for the greater good, the industry doubled down on production and spent millions on alternative science and misinformation campaigns. 

In response to Maui County’s announcement, the Sierra Club Maui Group has released this statement:

“Every day Maui Nui battles with the hardships of the climate crisis,” said Rob Weltman, Maui Group Executive Committee Chair. “This crisis was made worse by the fossil fuel industry’s well-funded deception campaign that delayed action on climate change and made them billions of dollars. At the same time, just three feet of sea level rise will cost Maui County alone $3.2 billion in loss of residential structures and land—in addition to creating conditions for more severe hurricanes, wildfires and droughts. This litigation empowers the County to reduce the financial burden on taxpayers while holding the industry accountable for its contribution to the climate crisis. It makes sense for Maui County to file suit now, to stand-up for its residents and hold the industry responsible for misleading the public and policymakers about the immense risk their products pose to people and the planet.”

Local support for holding carbon barons responsible

And reminding Hawaiʻi’s voters of the deception the industry fueled around climate science increase voter’s support of holding polluters legally responsible for costs of climate impacts by 25%.

 

Support stretches across party lines: After reading deception documents and current legal actions, 62% of Republicans and 64% of Independents said climate polluters should pay some of the costs of climate adaptation.

 

 

 

In the news

→Editorial: Climate change costs justify suit←

by Star Advertiser Staff  |  Honolulu Star-Advertiser  |  November 10, 2019

→Column: Hold fossil fuel companies to account←

by Rev. Sam Domingo, United Methodist pastor and clergy-founder of Faith Action  |  Honolulu Star-Advertiser  |  November 10, 2019

→Letter: Personal choices won’t be enough←

→Column: Fossil-fuel companies that caused climate change should pay for it←

by Marti Townsend, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi Director  |  Honolulu Star-Advertiser  |  October 6, 2019

→Column: Climate change demands action now←

by Kawika Pegram, Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Strike  |  Honolulu Star-Advertiser  |  September 29, 2019

End Game: System Change Not Climate Change

It’s not enough to solely move away from fossil fuels. We must remain flexible and look at the problem holistically—to change everything we need everyone. This means stepping out of our comfort zones and joining forces to work towards a future that is fair and livable for all.  

The climate crisis is the result of our current economic and industrial system.

Capitalism has deepened the divide between the wealthy and the poor, driven our markets to exploit natural resources beyond repair, polluted our waters and air, alienated native peoples, and hooked us on to fossil fuels. This economy has left behind millions of people—padding the pockets of corporate polluters and billionaires, exposing working class families, communities of color, and others to stagnant wages, toxic pollution, and dead-end jobs.


Making “better” personal choices is not the end all be all solution to the climate crisis.

That is just what the industry wants you to think. The fossil fuel industry argues that they are not responsible for the choices that we individually made to use their products. However, the system that we live in today is almost completely reliant on their products. This is by no coincidence, the fossil fuel industry has been a major player in the political and economic landscape for decades. They have built a society dependent on them and have led us to believe that it is our own fault and the fault of others, like developing countries, ultimately directing our attention away from the actual destructors, the industry themselves. 

Now it is not impossible to mitigate climate change impacts and stay within the 1.5 degree global temperature increase under our current systems but it is very close to it, it would be extraordinarily difficult. We need a bold, innovative, equitable, and thoughtful shift to keep this planet livable.


The Green New Deal is an example of just that.

At the intersection of the climate and inequality crises is the opportunity for a complete shift away from the status quo system that got us here. To tackle the climate crisis at the speed that justice and science demand, the Green New Deal will upgrade our infrastructure, revitalize our energy system, retrofit our buildings, and restore our ecosystems. It’ll cut climate pollution while creating millions of family-sustaining jobs, expanding access to clean air and water, raising wages, and building climate resilience. To counteract inequality, those benefits would go first and foremost to the working class families and communities of color that have endured the brunt of the fossil fuel economy.

Obviously, a shift like this means we must become comfortable with the uncomfortable: building alliances with unlikely partners while locking arms tighter with those we already hold close, looking beyond our typical scope of work and integrating cross-sector initiatives. It really will take everyone. But everyone shares this planet, right?

Health Booster: Nature & Tradition

We must remember that nature does not need humans—but humanity needs nature.

The natural resources that we depend on for survival existed (and flourished) long before our civilizations. And indigenous and traditional communities supported large populations while living harmoniously with the environment. We know it can be done. The reality is that the natural environment is resilient and humanity can live sustainably if it chooses to. This hints at the past being the key to our future. 

Nature-based solutions are actions that work with and enhance nature while also helping to keep our communities safe and adapt to climate change and its related disasters. Examples of nature-based solutions include a wide variety of actions such as native reforestation to increase carbon capture and forest resilience, restoring natural sand dune and wetland systems, farming coral to replenish damaged coral reefs, to embracing native food systems.