How to curb Hawaii’s greenhouse gas emissions? Legislators to consider carbon tax for polluters (big and small)

Visible white smoke emitted from the Kapolei Power Plant. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Visible white smoke emitted from the Kapolei Power Plant. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Dec. 3, 2018 at 9:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As public discourse heats up over climate change, state lawmakers will consider a new carbon tax to push consumers to make more eco-friendly choices.

The proposed carbon tax would not only be paid for by motorists, but also by large producers of carbon emissions like power plants, airlines and shipping companies.

“The idea is to make it economy wide so all of the innovation would be driven to less carbon intensive uses,” said state Sen. Karl Rhoads (D-Downtown), who plans to introduce the measure.

Some consumers said they’d be willing to be taxed to protect the environment from greenhouse gases.

“Maybe it would force people to conserve more or think about being environmentally friendly,” said Kakaako resident Suzanne Finney.

Hawaii resident Annie Oh thinks the proposed carbon tax would help the environment.

“I think it will push people to switch to energy-efficient and electric cars and I think it will be better for the environment," Oh said.

However, others think the proposed carbon tax is unfair.

“You’re charging somebody more money just to have an old car," said Gavin Webber, who lives in Mililani.

“Living in town is going to be more expensive than living than Kapolei or Mililani, so if that’s where they can find shelter why should they pay more for having a job in town.”

The measure is being backed by experts who say greenhouse gasses must be reduced to limit the damage of climate change.

A recent federal report found that Hawaii will face about $19 billion in damage by the year 2100 from rising sea levels alone.

“It’s doom and gloom. All of the scenarios are very bad if we don’t stop pumping so much carbon in the air," Rhoads said.

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