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HI Official Joins World Leaders in Glasgow to Demand Bold Climate Action

NORTH KONA, Hawaii -- Hawaii officials are among those heading to the annual international climate summit, and they are urging the U.S. to make good on its commitments.

Groups want Congress to pass federal climate legislation and for President Joe Biden to declare a national climate emergency.

Rep. Nicole Lowen, D-North Kona, is headed to Glasgow to join the talks, and she said it is important the U.S. rebuild trust with other nations, especially after the former Trump administration's dismissal of global climate-change mitigation efforts.

Lowen acknowledged some states are making progress, but emphasized it is a whole-country effort.

"As the largest per capita emitter of climate emissions, the U.S. taking action is essential," Lowen asserted. "While in Hawaii, we're happy to be doing our part, clearly, we're a small state, and we really need the rest of the country to come along."

The Biden administration's Build Back Better framework includes more than $500 billion in investments to curb climate change. Groups say the investments are urgent, but more will still be needed to address the existential threat.

Lowen added Hawaii has been a leader in the nation in adopting strong renewable-energy standards and setting bold goals for transitioning away from fossil fuels.

She stressed the state, as an island, is on the front lines of the climate crisis - facing sea-level rise, increased flooding, erosion of beaches and increased storm events. She noted with Hawaii's unique and isolated ecosystems, there is a lot of biodiversity.

"It's often referred to as the extinction capital of the world," Lowen remarked. "Because just the impacts of not only development and increased global travel and that kind of thing have affected native ecosystems, but also climate change, with changing weather patterns and temperatures, has had a huge impact."

World leaders concluded their speeches earlier this week and agreed to work to reduce deforestation and methane emissions. A vote on the Build Back Better Act should come any day now in the U.S. House and then will go to the Senate.