HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii lawmakers and members of the state's Congressional delegation railed against President Trump's decision Thursday to pull the United States out of a global agreement aimed at slowing the pace of global warming.
Speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday morning, Trump announced his intentions to abandon the Paris Climate Accord, saying it could hurt U.S. workers and unfairly "handicaps" the American economy.
There's a lengthy exit process outlined in the deal, which means the U.S. would remain in the agreement -- at least formally -- through 2020.
However, Trump said: "As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord."
After the announcement, Gov. David Ige said Hawaii was already taking steps to implement the Paris accord -- and would continue to do so.
"Hawaii will continue to fulfill its kuleana on reaching our energy, water, land and other sustainability goals to make island Earth a home for all," Ige said, in a statement. "The innovation economy is driven by technology, clean energy, and green jobs. We will continue to lead on this transformation and work collaboratively with people around the world."
A measure approved by this year's Legislature calls for the state to adopt the greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Paris agreement. Ige has not yet signed the bill, but an expedited review is likely given Trump's announcement Thursday.
State Sen. J. Kalani English, one of the bills co-authors, said adopting the international pact's goals is necessary because Hawaii is extremely susceptible to climate change.
"We're feeling the effects of it more so than most other states in the union because we're completely surrounded by water. We are seeing sea level rise," English said. "In the last few years, we've had lightning storms, thunderstorms, out of season storms, more intense storms. These are all part of climate change."
Scientists say Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming sooner as a result of the president's decision because America's pollution contributes so much to rising temperatures, the AP reports.
Hawaii already has a greenhouse gas reduction law. The legislation, approved in 2007, seeks a 16 percent reduction in carbon emission by the year 2020 from large facilities like power plants and refineries.
Some of the largest energy users in the state, like the city, are looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
The city wants to reduce its energy consumption by 30 percent over the next 13 years.
"We can do things as small as swapping out light bulbs but as big as changing our fleets to really making sure that we are emitting as little possible," said Josh Stanbro, the city's chief resiliency office and executive director of the Office of Climate, Sustainability and Resiliency.
In a statement Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the president's decision to pull out of the climate deal "is an abandonment of American leadership and a threat to island communities like our own here in Hawaii."
He added, "My administration is dedicated to continuing on the 'Paris path' and I am confident that this void of federal leadership will be filled by local governments, cities and mayors across the nation."
On Twitter, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, an outspoken critic of the president's climate policies, said the decision left him "angry, not deterred."
"We will win this fight, but we must be smarter, tougher and more relentless than the polluters and their friends," he said.
In another tweet, he wrote, "Dear Trump administration: Please stop doing insane things. Signed, Future Generations."
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was similarly incensed, calling the decision "irresponsible" and "short-sighted."
"In Hawaii we understand why it's important to take care of our land, ocean, and air – our way of life depends on it," Hirono said, in a statement. "Today, it's more important than ever for states like Hawaii to boldly take the lead on clean energy innovation and good stewardship of our aina."