Honolulu Adopts Near-term Climate Action Plan

June 6, 2021 - The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday voted to adopt a new climate action plan (CAP) that details nine strategies for curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s electricity, waste and ground transportation while boosting its renewable energy infrastructure through 2025.

Called One Climate, One Oahu, the CAP aims to reduce the city’s GHGs by 16% compared with an estimated baseline without the plan, amounting to a 45% total reduction in 2025 relative to 2015.

Of the nine strategies, four are directed at ground transportation, which accounts for about 19% the state’s GHGs. Air transportation makes up 23%.

Strategy 1 encourages mixed land use to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by decreasing the distance between destinations. The report says that “land use change is perhaps the most impactful tool within the City’s jurisdiction to reduce GHG emissions,” in part because bringing everything closer together “increases access to and makes more feasible alternative modes of transportation like biking, walking and public transit, especially when accompanied by safe pedestrian and biking infrastructure.”

Strategy 2 dovetails with that concept by recommending the city implement multimodal transportation. The recommendations ask for development of a Transportation Demand Management program that will explore telework policies, subsidize multimodal transit and eliminate free long-term parking. Strategy 2 would also implement the 88-mile Oahu Bike Plan, launch an integrated transit fare card with fare-capped rates, identify business solutions to reduce VMT and launch a trip planning app.

Strategy 3 would disincentivize parking to encourage multimodal transit because “low parking prices and high parking availability are more likely to induce private automobile ownership and travel.” It recommends implementing dynamic parking rates, repurposing underutilized parking areas for multimodal infrastructure, and eliminating off-street parking requirements to allow developers to build homes without parking spaces.

Strategy 4 would electrify the city’s heavy-duty vehicle fleet. Noting that electric buses carry an upfront premium of $400,000 compared with diesel models (based on a recent solicitation), the plan recommends developing a longer-term strategy to purchase buses over time, reaching 100% electric by 2035. It also recommends expanding electric vehicle infrastructure to handle this change and providing car-sharing companies with fuel efficient vehicles and encouraging them to offer point-to-point travel to bridge the last leg of a trip if a customer rides the bus.

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