On 20 January, UNU-IAS hosted a Climate Action Talk focusing on local action to achieve carbon neutrality. The event featured Kelly Takaya King, a councilmember in Maui Country, Hawaii, United States, which is a member of ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability. Reflecting on the outcomes of COP26, speakers noted concentrated efforts by various stakeholders, particularly local actors, to implement actions on the ground and enhance multi-level collaboration. The event was moderated by Akio Takemoto (Programme Head, UNU-IAS) and organised by the Global Environmental Outreach Centre (GEOC).
Ms King shared her experience and expertise in carbon neutrality initiatives in local governance. She urged local actors to start by setting goals to raise awareness and initiate action, followed by benchmarking advancement and gradually adjusting measures in collaboration with experts. She also discussed Maui County’s climate actions through the Hawaiian Clean Energy Initiative to reach zero emissions, and local measures and legislation to support ecosystem conservation and restoration, including a chemical sunscreen ban. Ms King stressed the need to support, enhance, and diversify local sectors to support the transition to a carbon neutral society. She explained that in Hawaii the focus was on boosting local agriculture (whether utilized for food or biofuel energy) and construction sectors, while lessening the dependence on foreign inputs such as tourism or imported goods.