of the Hawaii Host Committee, which he had chaired for the past year. This truly representative committee, he said, represents “a truly different approach to doing things than we’ve had in the past. People will come for business conventions as they recognize how serious we are about innovation.”
In addition, he said, would come obvious marketing opportunities, including clean energy technology, the economic power of the UH research programs, and the growing expertise in the health sciences. “These are strengths that people don’t always attribute to Hawaii, but in fact we do have those resources, and APEC is simply a great opportunity to expose them to the world.”
Mr. Rosenblum, a nuclear engineer, said he had been recruited just over two years previously to be president of Hawaiian Electric after 32 years in the utility business at Southern California Edison. In late 2008, the state of Hawaii, along with the Department of Defense and several other constituencies, made and signed an agreement to “break Hawaii’s addiction to oil,” he said. The goal was to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels in Hawaii by 70 percent in a little over 20 years. “To the best of my knowledge, there is no country, state, or institution that has ever been that brave because at the same time they are saying we don’t know how to do this, but we’re going to find a way.”
This bold step, he said, was economically essential. In 2008, the domestic product of Hawaii was nearly $60 billion, of which just over $8 billion was spent on fossil fuels. “Think of an economy with almost a 15 percent hole in the bottom, draining the economic vitality. It is not survivable.” The goal of the state, he said, was to plug that hole, using indigenous resources to the extent possible. “This agreement wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity.”
About one-third of fossil fuel use goes to long-distance transportation, he said. Another third goes to short-distance cars and trucks, and the final third to electricity. Electricity is the most straightforward to address, he said, because “there’s one monolith in that sector. As I said, I was trained as an engineer, and when the National Academy of Sciences says that global warming is real, stop arguing.29 Global warming is real, and we’re not going to change it unless the whole society decides to end our dependence on fossil fuels and go to clean energy sources.” He added that this presents a strategic opportunity for Hawaii—not just to reinvigorate the economy, but also to create jobs.
29The National Academies has published more than 15 publications about the science and policy implications of global warming and climate change. See, for example, National Research Council, Understanding Climate Change Feedbacks, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2003.