Via America’s Lawyer: As sea levels rise and coastlines shrink, Hawaii becomes the first state to declare a climate emergency. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain how state and federal lawmakers are taking steps to meet the worsening climate crisis head-on.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Hawaii is the first state to declare a climate emergency setting an example for the rest of the country to follow. Brigida Santos is here to talk with me about this right now. Brigida, what, what’s in Hawaii’s new Senate resolution? How far does this thing go?

Brigida Santos:                   State Senate concurrent resolution 44 declares that climate change is a threat to the environment and humans and requests statewide cooperation in addressing the adverse effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and the global temperature, coastal erosion and protecting critical infrastructure. While the resolution is largely symbolic, it also calls on Hawaii’s government to prohibit private investment and public subsidies in projects that exacerbate climate change like coal oil, gas, or tree burning. It also calls on the government to promote policies and infrastructure to replace fossil fuels with solar wind or battery storage by 2030. The state is taking action based on global scientific evidence and its own climate problems.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, it’s a non-binding resolution, but at least they’re doing something to get out there and say, we’re paying attention to it. Our beaches are eroding. We have sea levels that are rising. Our infrastructure’s at risk and we have to do something, even though the feds aren’t doing what they need to do, we need to do something on our own. How has climate change impacted Hawaii besides, you know, besides the fact that right now they see their islands disappearing from erosion?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah. Well, climate change has led to more droughts on Hawaii’s islands, which greatly impact indigenous communities, deteriorate freshwater streams and rivers, and reduce access to water. Rising sea levels have resulted in long-term coastal erosion to 70% of the beaches in Kauai, Oahu and Maui. Local governments on several islands had already previously declared climate emergencies back in 2019. But the new state-wide declaration now acknowledges the urgency of this problem and aims to solve some of the most pressing issues.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I’m wondering Brigida, are you seeing any signs that other States are planning similar actions? I, you know, Florida comes to my mind, all the coastal States coming to my mind, this would seem like a good idea. But what, what’s your, what have you followed on that?

Brigida Santos:                   Sure. Many States in the US are now regularly experiencing climate change related catastrophes from deep freezes to debilitating droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and storms. At least 33 States have now released a climate action plan or have one in the works. And these plans typically set goals targeting greenhouse gas emissions, or focus on shifting to renewable energy sources. But so far, Hawaii is the only US state to declare an official climate emergency. Now, back in February, there was a house resolution introduced at the federal level to declare a national climate emergency. And the Biden administration has spoken about advancing climate policies at home and internationally. But we’ll have to see how that plays out. And across the globe, nearly 2000 jurisdictions in 34 countries, have also declared climate emergencies. So it seems like people are finally paying attention. But is it going to be too little too late? We’ll have to wait and see.

Mike Papantonio:             Brigida, thank you for joining me. This is an important story. Hopefully, some state leaderships will be listening to what Hawaii has figured out. Thank you for joining me.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.