Climate emergency declaration

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Countries where a climate emergency has been declared, either for the entire country (dark blue) or only for some subdivisions (light blue), as of December 2020.

A climate emergency declaration or declaring a climate emergency is an action taken by governments and scientists[1] to acknowledge humanity is in a climate emergency. The first such declaration was made by a local government in December 2016.[2] Since then over 1,900 local governments in 34 countries have made climate emergency declarations (as of June 2021). Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to over 1 billion citizens.[3]

On 29 April 2019 the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency, which was subsequently passed by its parliament, Senedd Cymru, on 1 Mai 2019, when it became the first in the world to officially declare a climate emergency.[4][5][6]

Once a government makes a declaration, the next step for the declaring government is to set priorities to mitigate climate change, prior to ultimately entering a state of emergency or equivalent.[7] In declaring a climate emergency, a government admits that climate change (or global warming) exists and that the measures taken up to this point are not enough to limit the changes brought by it. The decision stresses the need for the government and administration to devise measures that try and stop human-caused global warming.[8][9]

The declarations can be made on different levels, for example, at a national or local government level, and they can differ in depth and detail in their guidelines. The term climate emergency does not only describe formal decisions, but also includes actions to avert climate breakdown. This is supposed to justify and focus the governing body towards climate action. The specific term "emergency" is used to assign priority to the topic, and to generate a mindset of urgency.

The term "climate emergency" has been promoted by climate activists and pro-climate action politicians to add a sense of urgency for responding to a long-term problem.[10] A United Nations Development Programme survey of public opinion in 50 countries found that sixty-four percent of 1.2 million respondents believe climate change is a global emergency.[11]

Terminology[edit]

For further discussion regard terminology, see Climate crisis § Alternative terminology.
Beginning in early 2019, Google trends data shows a growth in "climate emergency" searches (shown in red), concurrently with growth in searches for "climate crisis" (shown in blue).

Climate emergency as a term was used in protests against climate change before 2010 (e.g. the "Climate-Emergency-Rally" in Melbourne in June 2009[12]). In 2017 the city council of Darebin adopted multiple measures named "Darebin Climate Emergency Plan". On 4 December 2018, the Club of Rome presented their "Climate Emergency Plan", which included 10 high-priority measures to limit global warming.[13] With the rise of movements like Extinction Rebellion[14] and Fridays For Future the concern has been picked up by various governments.

Multiple European cities and communities who declared a climate emergency are simultaneously members of the Klima-Bündnis (German for climate alliance), which obligates them to lower their CO2 emissions by 10% every five years.

Oxford Dictionary chose climate emergency as the word of the year 2019 and defines the term as "a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it." Usage of the term soared more than 10,000% between September 2018 and September 2019.[15]

History[edit]

Australian climate activists demand the declaration of a climate emergency on 13 June 2009 at the "Climate Emergency Rally" during the annual Earth day in Melbourne, Australia
"Climate Emergency" declared on a banner on 22 April 2017 at the annual March for Science in Melbourne, Australia

Early stages[edit]

Encouraged by the campaigners behind a Climate Emergency Declaration petition, which had been launched in Australia in May 2016, the first governmental declaration of a climate emergency in the world was put forward by Trent McCarthy, an Australian Greens Councillor at the City of Darebin in Melbourne, Australia. The city declared a climate emergency on 5 December 2016.[16][17][18] In August 2017, Darebin decided upon a catalogue of actions in a "Darebin Climate Emergency Plan".[19][20] Darebin's declaration was followed by Hoboken in New Jersey and Berkeley, California.[17][18]

Hearing of these developments in 2018, UK Green Party politician Carla Denyer, then a member of Bristol City Council, took the lead role in bringing about Bristol City Council's declaration of a climate emergency.[21] This was the first such declaration by in Europe, and has been widely credited as a breakthrough moment for cities and national parliaments beginning to declare climate emergency.[22][23][17][18] Denyer's motion was described in the UK newspaper The Independent as 'the historic first motion' which by July 2019 had been 'copied by more than 400 local authorities and parliaments'.[24]

"Climate angel" with a poster "This is an emergency" at the "Extinction Rebellion" protests on 22 March 2019 in Melbourne, Australia
Demanding a "Klimanotstand" (English: Climate Emergency) at Helvetiaplatz [de] in Bern, Switzerland on 24 May 2019

On 28 April 2019, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of the Scottish Government declared a climate emergency at the SNP conference; the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act was passed on 25 September 2019.[25][26] The following day, the Welsh Government declared a climate emergency, which was subsequently passed by its parliament, Senedd Cymru on 1 Mai 2019, when it became the first in the world to officially declare a climate emergency.[4][5][6] The Parliament of the United Kingdom followed later that afternoon.[27]

Subsequent developments[edit]

Pope Francis declared a climate emergency in June 2019.[28] The Pope also called for a "radical energy transition" away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources, and urged leaders to "hear the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor."[28] He also argued against "the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves" and stated that "fossil fuels should remain underground."[28]

On 10 July 2019, networks representing more than 7,000 higher and further education institutions from six continents announced that they are declaring a Climate Emergency, and agreed to undertake a three-point plan to address the crisis through their work with students.[29] Some statements were criticized for not including specific measures.[30]

In June 2019, Councillor Trent McCarthy of the City of Darebin brought together councillors and parliamentarians in Australia and around the world for two online link-ups to connect the work of climate emergency-declared councils and governments. Following these link-ups and a successful motion at the National General Assembly of Local Government, McCarthy announced the formation of Climate Emergency Australia, a new network of Australian governments and councils advocating for a climate emergency response.

Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon believes the US government should declare a climate emergency.[31] Blumenauer's proposed legislation is supported by 2020 US Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.[31]

In 2019, according to an eight-country poll, a majority of the public recognise the climate crisis as an "emergency" and say politicians are failing to tackle the problem, backing the interests of Big Oil over the wellbeing of ordinary people. The survey found that climate breakdown is viewed as the most important issue facing the world in seven out of the eight countries surveyed.[32]

In September 2013, the Australian Medical Association officially declared climate change a public health emergency.[33] The AMA noted that climate change will cause "higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress, injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events; increases in the transmission of vector-borne diseases; food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs; [and] a higher incidence of mental-ill health."[33] The AMA has called on the Australian Government to adopt a carbon budget; reduce emissions; and transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, among other proposals to mitigate the health impacts of climate change.[33]

The Australian Greens Party have called on the federal Parliament to declare a climate emergency. Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, welcomed the UK Parliament's declaration of a climate emergency and argued that Australia should follow their lead.[34] In October 2019, an official e-petition to the Australian Parliament calling for the declaration of a climate emergency, received more than 400,000 signatories.[35][36][37] This is the single most popular online Parliamentary petition in Australia.[37] Former federal Liberal Party leader John Hewson has publicly urged for a conscience vote in the Parliament on the climate emergency, despite the Liberal Party's current position on climate change.[38] He also stated that "it was an emergency 30 years ago".[38]

In October 2019, the Australian Labor Party supported the Greens Party's policy to declare a climate emergency, however the proposition failed with the rejection of the Morrison Government.[39] The motion was supported by independent members Zali Steggall, Helen Haines and Andrew Wilkie, as well as Centre Alliance.[38]

On 5 November 2019, the journal BioScience published an article endorsed by further 11,000 scientists from 153 nations, that states Climate Emergency ("We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency") and that the world's people face "untold suffering due to the climate crisis" unless there are major transformations to global society.[40] On 28 July 2021, BioScience published another article, stating, that more than 2,800 additional scientists have signed that declaration; and that in addition, 1,990 jurisdictions in 34 countries have formally declared or recognized a climate emergency.[41]

In November 2019, the Oxford Dictionaries made the term climate emergency word of the year.

On 14–15 February 2020 the first National Climate Emergency Summit was held at the city hall in Melbourne, Australia. It was a sold out event with 2,000 attendees and 100 speakers.[42][43]

In December 2020, New Zealand declared a climate emergency.[44] After winning reelection, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's majority Labour government invited the Greens to participate in a "cooperation agreement", and worked with the Minister for Climate James Shaw in declaring a climate emergency.

As of December 2020, five years after the Paris Agreement, at least 15 countries have already declared a state of climate emergency, including Japan and New Zealand. (Note: The fact that councils in 34 countries have declared is not the same as that these countries' national governments have declared.) The Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres has urged all other countries to declare climate emergencies until carbon neutrality is reached.[45]

In September 2021, Mauritius joined the list of countries calling for a State of Climate Emergency. The recommendation was made by the National Youth Environment (NYEC) Chairperson, Dr. Zaheer Allam, and announced by the Environment Minister, Kavy Ramano, after the first sitting of the Interministerial Council on Climate Change.[46]

Recent development: list of countries and dependencies[edit]

Parliamentary or Government declaration[edit]

European Union member states[edit]

On 28 November 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency.[76][77] The EU represented at that date 28 member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Countries and jurisdictions that have declared Climate Emergency[edit]

There is currently not any established international body keeping a record of which jurisdictions have declared a climate emergency. CEDAMIA a group advocating for climate emergency has the most complete list of jurisdictions including national, state and local jurisdictions across the world that have declared a climate emergency, this list is constantly being updated as more juristictions declare.[78]

  Navigation  -  select the first letter of the country or territory:  A B C D E F G H I J L M N P R S U V  
Country/Territory Declared a Climate Emergency Notes
 Australia Partial The Federal Parliament of Australia has voted against declaring a climate emergency.[79] However, numerous state and local jurisdictions in Australia have declared a climate emergency, most notably, South Australia (September 2019),[80] Darebin (5 December 2016),[19][20] Melbourne (June 2019),[81] Sydney (June 2019),[82] Adelaide (August 2019),[83] and more than 17 towns (30 April 2019).[84][85] For more information on climate emergency declarations in Australia see Climate emergency declarations in Australia.
 Austria Yes
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government in Austria declared a climate emergency on 25 September 2019. Additionally, some local jurisdictions have declared a climate emergency, most notably the towns and municipalities Michaelerberg-Pruggern (13 June 2019),[86] Perchtoldsdorf (18 June 2019),[87] Traiskirchen (24 June 2019),[88] Steyregg (4 July 2019)[89] and the state Vorarlberg (4 July 2019).[90] Austria is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Bangladesh Yes The Bangladesh Parliament declared "Planetary Emergency" on 13 November 2019[91][92]
 Belgium Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government in Belgium has not declared a climate emergency. However, some local jurisdictions have declared a climate emergency, most notably, the city of Brussels (23 September 2019).[93] Belgium is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Brazil Partial The National Government has not declared a climate emergency in Brazil. However a number of local juristictions have declared a climate emergency including the city of Recife.[94]
 Bulgaria Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Bulgaria is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Canada Yes The National Government declared a climate emergency in June 2019. Additionally, 384 local juristictions in Canada have declared a climate emergency.
 Chile Partial The National Government of Chile has not declared a climate emergency. However, local juristictions such as the city of Hualpén have declared a climate emergency.[95]
 Colombia Partial The National Government of Colombia has not declared a climate emergency. However, local juristictions such as Bogotá have declared a climate emergency.[96]
 Croatia Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Croatia is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Cyprus Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Cyprus is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Czech Republic Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Czechia has not declared a climate emergency. However, local jurisdictions such as the 6th District of Prague (13 June 2019)[97] the 7th District of Prague (22 May 2019)[98] have declared a climate emergency. Czechia is also a member state in the European Union, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
Country/Territory Declared a Climate Emergency Notes
 Denmark Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Denmark is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Estonia Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Estonia is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Finland Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Finland has not endorsed a climate emergency. However, local jurisdictions such as the City of Helsinki in Finland[99] have called a climate emergency. Finland is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 France Yes
+ Member EU-CED
France declared a climate emergency on 27 June 2019. Additionally, some local jurisdictions such as Mulhouse (9 May 2019)[100] and Paris[101] have declared a climate emergency. France is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Germany Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Germany has not endorsed a climate emergency. However, 68 towns, among others Konstanz, Heidelberg, Kiel, Münster, Erlangen, Bochum, Aachen, Saarbrücken, Wiesbaden, Leverkusen, Marburg, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Cologne, Karlsruhe, Potsdam, Berlin, Leipzig and Munich have.[102][103][104][105][106][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120] Germany is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Greece Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Greece is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Hungary Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The city of Budapest declared a climate emergency in November 2019.[121] Hungary is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Ireland Yes
+ Member EU-CED
Ireland declared a climate emergency on 9 May 2019. Ireland is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Italy Yes
+ Member EU-CED
Italy has declared a climate emergency, additionally, 28 local jurisdictions have, including Acri (29 April 2019),[122] the town of Milano,[123] the Metropolitan City of Naples (May 2019)[124] and the town of Lucca.[125][126] Italy is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Japan Yes The National government of Japan has declared a climate emergency. Additionally, a few local jurisdictions have including the prefecture of Nagano (December 2019),[127] the cities of Iki[128][129] and Kamakura[130] have declared a climate emergency.
Country/Territory Declared a Climate Emergency Notes
 Latvia Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Latvia is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Lithuania Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Lithuania is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Luxembourg Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Luxembourg is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Maldives Yes The Maldives Parliament declared Climate Emergency on 12 February 2020.[131][69]
 Malta Yes
+ Member EU-CED
Malta is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Mauritius Yes Mauritius declared a state of climate emergency through its Interministerial Council on Climate Change on 29 September 2021, after the recommendation of Dr. Zaheer Allam from the National Youth Environment Council.[132]
 Netherlands Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of the Netherlands has not declared a climate emergency. However, some local jurisdictions in the Netherlands such as the city of Amsterdam,[133] Utrecht, Haarlem and the island of Schouwen-Duiveland[134] have. The Netherlands is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 New Zealand Yes New Zealand declared a Climate Emergency on 2 December 2020. Many local juristictions in New Zealand/Aotearoa have also declared climate emergencies including Canterbury region,[135] and the city of Nelson (16 May 2019);[136] Auckland (11 June 2019);[137] and Wellington (20 June 2019).[138] See Climate emergency declarations in New Zealand.
 Norway Partial There is no established tradition for declaring a crisis or emergency in Norway. The National Government of Norway has not declared a climate emergency, however the King, Prime Minister and Minister of Climate and Environment has repeatedly stated that the situation is a crisis.[139][140][141] As of 2019, 33 counties and municipalities had declared emergency, but no policy could be linked to the declarations.[142] Some counties and municipalities no longer exist due to a regional reorganisation in 2020.
 Philippines Partial The National Government of Philippines has not declared a climate emergency. However, some local jurisdictions in the Philippines such as the town of Bacolod[143] have declared a climate emergency.
 Poland Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Poland has not declared a climate emergency. However, Local jurisdictions in Poland such as the cities of Warsaw[144] and Kraków[145] have declared a climate emergency. Poland is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Portugal Yes
+ Member EU-CED
Portugal is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Romania Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Romania is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
Country/Territory Declared a Climate Emergency Notes
 Singapore Partial The Government of Singapore has not declared a climate emergency. However, the Parliament of Singapore declared on 1 February 2021 that "climate change is a global emergency" as part of a motion calling on the Government to "deepen and accelerate efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to embrace sustainability in the development of Singapore". The declaration, originally stated as "That this House acknowledges a climate emergency", was first added by Worker's Party MP Dennis Tan as an amendment to the PAP's original motion, which did not have the declaration. The declaration was then further amended by PAP MP Cheryl Chan to read "That this House acknowledges that climate change is a global emergency and a threat to mankind". The further amendment was accepted by the Worker's Party and passed by the House with universal support.[146][72]
 Slovakia Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Slovakia has not declared a climate emergency. However, Local jurisdictions in Slovakia such as the city of Zlaté Moravce (18 September 2019)[147] have declared a climate emergency. Slovakia is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Slovenia Partial
+ Member EU-CED
Slovenia is a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 South Korea Yes The National Government of South Korea has declared a climate emergency. Additionally several local jurisdictions in South Korea such as South Chungcheong Province,[148] the city of Incheon,[149] the South Gyeongsang Province,[150] the Gwangju,[151] and every primary local government[152] has declared a climate emergency.
 Spain Yes
+ Member EU-CED
Both the National Government and the Parliament of Spain has declared a climate emergency. Additionally, local jurisdictions in Spain, such as the regions of Catalonia (7 May 2019),[153] Euskadi,[154] Canary Islands,[155] Balearic Islands,[156] and the cities of San Cristóbal de La Laguna,[157] Seville,[158] Castro Urdiales,[159] Zaragoza, Salobreña, Lanzarote, El Rosario, Puerto de la Cruz,[160] Sagunto,[161] Zamora,[162] Madrid.,[163] Barcelona[164] and Tomelloso[165] have declared a climate emergency. Spain is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
 Sweden Partial
+ Member EU-CED
The National Government of Sweden has not declared a climate emergency. However, Local jurisdictions, such as the cities of Lund[166] and Malmö[167] have declared a climate emergency. Sweden is also a member state in the EU, which declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations on 28 November 2019.[76]
  Switzerland Partial The National Government of Switzerland has not declared a climate emergency. However, the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Jura and Vaud, and the cities of Liestal, Olten and Delemont[100] have declared a climate emergency.
 United Kingdom Partial
+ Member EU-CED

In May 2019, the UK Parliament passed a non-binding motion declaring a climate emergency in the UK, following an opposition day debate. Michael Gove, responding for the UK Government, said that "the situation we face is an emergency" and called for cross-party action; but didn't endorse the motion.[168][169] The UK was a member state in the EU at the time that it (the EU) declared a climate emergency on behalf of all represented nations, on 28 November 2019.[76]

 United States Partial In the United States: more than 24 towns have declared a climate emergency,[170] most notably, New York City (26 June 2019),[171] Hayward (15 January 2019), San Francisco and Chico (2 April 2019).[172] Hawaii became the first U.S. state to declare a climate emergency on 29 April 2021.[74]
  Vatican City Yes Pope Francis declared a state of climate emergency in June 2019 on behalf of the Holy See.[28]
 Wales Yes 1 Mai 2019: Senedd Cymru passed the declaration made by its Government on 29 April 2019, and became the first parliament in the world to officially declare a climate emergency.[4][5][6]
Country/Territory Declared a Climate Emergency Notes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ripple, William; Wolf, Christopher; Newsome, Thomas; Barnard, Phoebe; Moomaw, William (2019-11-05). "World Scientists' Warning of a Climate Emergency". BioScience, Biz088, American Institute of Biological Science (Oxford Academic; Oxford University Press). Retrieved 2019-12-14.
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  11. ^ The Peoples' Climate Vote. UNDP.org. United Nations Development Programme. 2021-01-26. Archived from the original on 2021-01-28. 64% of people said that climate change was an emergency – presenting a clear and convincing call for decision-makers to step up on ambition.
    - The highest level of support was in SIDS (Small Island Developing States, 74%), followed by high-income countries (72%), middle-income countries (62%), then LDCs (Least Developed Countries, 58%).
    - Regionally, the proportion of people who said climate change is a global emergency had a high level of support everywhere - in Western Europe and North America (72%), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (65%), Arab States (64%), Latin America and Caribbean (63%), Asia and Pacific (63%), and Sub-Saharan Africa (61%).
    - Four climate policies emerged as the most popular globally:
    1. Conservation of forests and land (54% public support);
    2. Solar, wind and renewable power (53%);
    3. Climate-friendly farming techniques (52%); and
    4. Investing more in green businesses and jobs (50%).

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