Maui News

Councilmember Kelly King to Depart for UN Climate Change Conference

October 27, 2021, 10:21 AM HST
* Updated October 28, 9:01 AM
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Councilmember Kelly King. PC: courtesy.

Councilmember Kelly Takaya King will depart Thursday for the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. She is one of only two delegates selected to attend the conference, also known as COP26, on behalf of ICLEI USA, an association of local governments devoted to climate action and sustainability. 

“Maui Councilmember Kelly Takaya King’s experience as a woman, business leader, and local elected official in an island community uniquely qualifies her to build bridges between the most vulnerable nations and US leadership,” said Angie Fyfe, ICLEI USA Executive Director. “Her goals for Maui span the field of sustainability, especially toward closed-loop, circular economic development and eliminating fossil fuel use. I’m very excited to have her join the ICLEI USA delegation to COP26.” 

In her third term holding the South Maui residency seat of the Maui County Council, King is chair of the Council’s Climate Action, Resilience, and Environment Committee and a member of ICLEI USA’s Board of Directors.

Maui County is a member of ICLEI’s network of local governments and a participant in the organization’s Race to Zero and Circle City Scan Pilot programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a sustainable circular economy. 

“We know that the window for meaningful action to reduce emissions, transition away from fossil fuels, and avoid the worst impacts of climate catastrophe is rapidly closing,” said Councilmember King. “This urgency makes COP26 an essential and uniquely important meeting of leaders from around the globe. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres put it, climate change is sounding ‘code red for humanity.’” 

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A recent report released leading up to COP26 in partnership with the UN Environment Programme titled “The Production Gap” explained how the world’s governments plan to produce far more fossil fuels than is consistent with goals made in the Paris Agreement, which was adopted at COP21 in 2015. Countries agreed to reevaluate those goals and establish new targets at COP26. 

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“Global fossil fuel plans exceed the amounts that would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or even 2 degrees Celsius, from pre-industrial times,” said King. “We’re at 1.2 degrees Celsius of global warming already and experiencing the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Our lives and ecosystems depend on bold action, because at 2 degrees C of warming it has been projected we could lose as much as 99 percent of coral reefs and subject hundreds of millions more people to climate-related risks and poverty.” 

In response to the previous US Administration’s move to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Councilmember King led efforts to affirm Maui County’s commitment to a climate action by introducing County Resolutions 19-209 “Acknowledging a Climate Emergency and Committing to an Immediate Just Transition and Emergency Mobilization Effort to Restore a Safe Climate” and 20-64 “Recognizing Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary and Pledging to Continue Maui County’s Efforts to Build Upon the Paris Climate Agreement.” Both were adopted by the County Council. 

“Living in Maui County is a great privilege but it is also a responsibility,” said King. “Island communities like ours are home to beautiful cultures, people, and ecosystems. However, we face dire challenges and risks being at the frontline of climate change’s impacts such as sea level rise, extreme weather, supply chain disruptions, and the degradation of unique habitats. I am honored to attend COP26 as one of the representatives from Hawaiʻi, to give a voice to our unique challenges and to bring back global expertise to our Council’s CARE Committee.”

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