Guide: ‘Understanding climate emergency and local government’

Melbourne-based Breakthrough has released an excellent eight-page guide – ‘Understanding climate emergency and local government’ – which explains the scientific evidence of the emergency, the crucial initiating role of local government, and what an ’emergency response’ is.

The purpose of climate emergency declaration campaigning is to accelerate sustained and meaningful action by all levels of government, and for people globally to engage with the challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate change and restoring a safe climate.

The use of the term “emergency” is a way of signalling the need to go beyond reform-as-usual.

The strategy is to start with local governments because it is easier to find innovative local governments to be early movers than it is to get state and national governments to take on the climate emergency response approach. Local councils and communities have an indispensable role in helping to build a national and global response.

Download the guide

→ More guides and papers from Breakthrough can be found on

→ Share the news about this on Facebook

“Tackling the climate emergency: tools for cities”

Climate Action Co-benefits Toolkit

In the United Kingdom, Ashden have launched a Climate Action Co-benefits Toolkit to help local and combined authorities to radically cut carbon emissions while delivering wider benefits.

Ashden launched this at an event together with the Grantham Institute who have published a briefing paper on the co-benefits of climate action.

→ Download the briefing paper: ‘Co-benefits of climate change mitigation in the UK: What issues are the UK public concerned about and how can action on climate change help to address them?’ (PDF)

Surf Coast Shire Council: Your leadership matters

Surf Coast Shire Council: declaring a climate emergency is also to declare that Surf Coast Council will be a catalyst for responsible and conscious change in our community.

Considering the circumstances, it is criminal that the federal government allows carbon emissions to keep rising, and is continuing to investing in climate-wrecking coal and gas instead of in clean energy at a time when we see irreversible tipping points reached – now with Greenland’s ice sheet melting “unusually fast”, and dangerous methane bubbling up from the vast, melting permafrost areas.

Your leadership matters and it will make a difference, because you are not alone in doing so. Together with now 24 other Councils in Australia, and the ACT government, you are influencing even more councils to follow your step.

Soon there will be hundreds of Australian councils declaring that they are going to get this job done of responding adequately to the climate emergency – and eventually neither state or federal governments will be able to ignore your collective efforts and proper leadership.

Don’t fail on this one. This is about understanding good governance and having a good strategy for the residents of Surf Coast Shire.

. . .

If you live in Surf Coast Shire and if you’d like to see your councillors declare a climate emergency, you can support the petition on

Over a thousand people have signed the petitions calling Surf Coast Shire Council to declare a climate emergency.

#ClimateEmergency #ClimateEmergencyDeclaration

→ The Economist – 17 June 2019:
The Greenland ice sheet is melting unusually fast
“It is losing so much water that it may raise global sea levels by a millimetre this year”

Climate emergency declaration news in June 2019

Head of UN climate change secretariat:

“We are in a climate emergency”

“Patricia Espinosa, head of the United Nations climate change secretariat, said existing country pledges to cut planet-warming emissions would heat the planet by 3 degrees Celsius (5.4F) from pre-industrial times.

“That is just not possible,” she said, adding it would leave people sicker and result in battles over resources such as water and land, with coastal residents losing homes to rising seas. “We are literally in a climate emergency, and… we are increasingly hearing that this is the fight of our lives,” she said.”

→ Thomson Reuters Foundation – 17 June 2019:
UN climate chief says 3C hotter world ‘just not possible’
“Climate change is an “existential issue”, and stepping up efforts to keep warming to agreed limits is urgent, the U.N. climate chief says.”

→ Green Report – 14 June 2019:
António Guterres: The climate emergency threatens the security and stability of the world (article in Italian language)
“More and more wars in the world of sovereignties and the risk of a global nuclear conflict reappears.”


House of Commons declares a climate emergency

The House has voted to “declare that Canada is in a national climate emergency which requires, as a response, that Canada commit to meeting its national emissions target under the Paris Agreement and to making deeper reductions in line with the Agreement’s objective of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Forcing a vote on the motion meant all MPs had to stand up and be counted, whether or not they support Canada meeting the Paris targets.

→ CTV News – 17 June 2019:
Canada’s House of Commons has declared a national climate emergency
“The House of Commons has passed a motion declaring a national climate emergency, and supporting Canada’s commitment to meet the Paris Agreement emissions targets. Conservative MPs voted against the motion, but it still passed 186-63 with the support of the Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois and Green MPs.”

→ Global News – 17 June 2019:
National climate emergency declared by House of Commons
“The motion was put forward by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, with the vote passing 186-63.”

→ The Link – 8 June 2019:
Climate Activists Hold Town Hall for Green New DeaL
“A Green New Deal would be a dramatic transformation of the economy tackling the climate crisis and the injustices related to it”


First Australian state capital declares climate emergency

“Hobart has become the first capital city in Australia to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and demand urgent action. The motion passed last night eight votes to three, with Aldermen Tanya Denison, Simon Behrakis and Marti Zucco voting against it.
Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds says the declaration of an emergency reflects the concerns of the community. “Acknowledging that you have a really strategic problem for the future is more than symbolic, it’s about recognising that this issue is going to effect our operations and our community is incredibly concerned about the impact of climate change on the future of our city,” she said.
But Alderman Behrakis has described the council’s to declare as emergency as “hypocritical”. He says several of the councillors and aldermen who supported the declaration, also voted against an amendment showing support for a zero-emission power generation program.”

→ ABC News – 18 June 2019:
Hobart City Council declares climate emergency

National General Assembly of Local Government 2019:

Call on the Australian government to declare a climate emergency

Darebin City councillor Trent McCarthy wrote on Facebook on 17 June 2019:
“We just got the National General Assembly of Local Government 2019 to call on the Australian Government to declare a #ClimateEmergency and set up a $10B fund to enable councils to build the resilience of climate change vulnerable communities. Thanks to Moreland Council, Yarra Council and Blue Mountains Shire for co-sponsoring Darebin’s motion and to the 134 delegates who voted for it.”

→ The Guardian – 3 June 2019:
We must mobilise for the climate emergency like we do in wartime. Where is the climate minister?
“A realistic assessment of climate-related impacts and threats depends on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of climate science projections. Unfortunately, much scientific knowledge produced for climate policymaking is conservative and reticent.” By Ian Dunlop and David Spratt

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 3 June 2019:
Time to flick climate emergency switch: a plea to our new Parliament
“A year ago, there was little discussion of climate change as an existential threat, or the corresponding need for emergency action. Today, in the face of rapidly accelerating climate impacts, “existential threat” and “climate emergency” are common currency globally, existential meaning the potential to destroy humanity as we know it.” By Ian Dunlop

→ The Guardian – 15 June 2019:
Australia’s oldest things: how mind-boggling timelines meet the climate emergency
““As the world becomes more unstable in the grip of vast and all-pervasive change,” Falconer writes, “it’s difficult to discern exact chronologies, relationships and meaning.” More than anything, I think, climate change politicises time.”

Story change

Al Jazeera asks: “Has the media narrative changed around climate change?”

Lawyer Farhana Yamin:

“We have three choices: to die, to survive or to thrive”

“At this point in human history we have three choices: to die, to survive or to thrive. From the wildfires in the U.S., coral die-back in the tropics and the deadly hurricanes battering small islands, the signs are crystal clear: climate devastation is already here. The world’s poorest people and indigenous communities are on the front line. They are also bearing the brunt of the sixth mass extinction, which is under way due to conversion of their forests, wetlands and other wild landscapes into concrete cities, dam reservoirs and fields growing soya.”
~ An excerpt from This is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook, published by Penguin Books. By Farhana Yamin, an international environmental lawyer and activist with the Extinction Rebellion movement.

→ Time – 14 June 2019:
This Is the Only Way to Tackle the Climate Emergency

→ The Guardian – 15 June 2019:
We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet
“The case for action to tackle the climate emergency, on a scale far beyond anything that has yet been attempted, is increasingly widely understood.”

→ CommonDreams – 12 June 2019:
Adding to Planetary Alarm Bells, Top US Finance Official Warns Climate Crisis a Recipe for Global Economic Collapse
“It’s abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system.”

→ Inequality – 15 June 2019:
Global Inequality in a Time of Climate Emergency
“Our world’s richest have a great deal of money. They also have the power to decide whether our civilization sinks or swims. So what can we do?”


Leader of 1.3 billion Catholics declares a climate emergency

On social media

In the news

→ TVNZ – 13 June 2019:
It’s time for NZ to declare a climate emergency, majority of Kiwis say in new poll
“Of those who were polled, 53 per cent answered yes, 39 per cent said no, and eight per cent did not know. Those who were more likely to agree that the Government should declare a climate change emergency were Green Party supporters, Pacific peoples, people aged 18-34, Labour Party supporters and Māori.”

→ Insurance Business NZ – 15 June 2019:
Climate emergency declared in Auckland
“Auckland City Council has become the latest to declare a climate emergency, joining Canterbury, Nelson, and Kāpiti Coast councils and other cities around the world that have formally recognised the urgency for climate change action.”


→ Greek Travel Pages – 5 June 2019:
Greek Green Groups Calling on Parties to Declare ‘Climate Emergency’
“Dozens of local environmental groups are calling on the Greek government and political parties to take immediate action and move swiftly ahead with the implementation of measures against global warming and are demanding a “climate emergency” be declared.”

Existential climate-related security risk

Media coverage generated by the release of the Breakthrough policy paper on climate, security and risk by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt:

→ CNN:
Climate change could pose ‘existential threat’ by 2050: report says

→ ABC News: (US)
Climate change could pose ‘existential threat’ to humanity by 2050, advocates say

→ Al Jazeera:
‘Reaching end game’: New paper on climate change raises alarm

→ New Scientist:
Is it true climate change will cause the end of civilisation by 2050?

→ The Independent:
‘High likelihood of human civilisation coming to end’ by 2050, report finds

→ CBS News:
Climate change report: Human civilization at risk by 2050, according to new Australian climate change analysis

→ Adelaide Advertiser:
Civilisation will be under threat by 2050 if we don’t tackle climate change, report warns

→ Mirror: (UK)
Human civilisation ‘will collapse by 2050’ if we don’t tackle climate change

→ NZ Herald:
Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisation

→ Live Science:
Human Civilization Will Crumble by 2050 If We Don’t Stop Climate Change Now, New Paper Claims

→ Science Alert:
Climate Change Could End Human Civilisation as We Know It by 2050, Analysis Finds

→ Pro Bono Australia:
Climate change: ‘A near-to-mid-term existential threat to human civilisation’

→ People:
The End of Civilization May Begin in Just 30 Years, According to a New Harrowing Report

→ Climate News Network:
Thirty years to climate meltdown – or not?

→ Alternet:
‘Existential’ risk of climate crisis could lead to civilizational collapse by 2050: report

→ Medium:
Climate Change Alarmists Have a Point

→ Heute:
Researcher: Humanity is at its end in 30 years (article in German language)

→ Bild:
Shock forecast for the climate catastrophe (article in German language)

→ Klimareporter:
Is humanity dying? (article in German language)
Translation on

Climate emergency movement news in overview

Climate emergency declarations in 623 councils cover 84 million citizens

Populations covered by local governments that have declared a climate emergency: 84 million citizens in 13 countries, with 34 million of these living in the United Kingdom, meaning more than 53 per cent of the UK population…
Read more

Video recordings of climate emergency speeches in chambers and halls

Climate emergency speeches by Councillors – Canada: Legislative Assembly of Ontario Ian Arthur delivers a passionate and emotional speech advocating for the declaration of a climate emergency. 5 minutes. 15 May 2019 – Canada: Cowichan Valley Council: Sonia Furstenau, Member of the Legislative Assembly…
Read more

Discussions about the concept of declaring a climate emergency

Discussion in Hobart Council → ABC News – 21 May 2019: Hobart Council row erupts as members stage a meeting walkout against climate change motion “A row has erupted inside the walls of Hobart City Council over a motion to recognise climate change as a global emergency.” …
Read more

New Zealand: Two regional councils declare a climate emergency

On 16 May 2019, two regional councils in New Zealand made history by declaring a climate emergency as the first councils in the country, vowing to put climate change at the forefront of decision making. “At 11:49am on Thursday, Environment Canterbury councillors voted and made history, …
Read more

Australian Capital Territory declares a climate emergency

“As the first Australian state or territory to declare a climate emergency, we’re setting the standard for climate action across Australia, and the world,” tweeted Shane Rattenbury, ACT Greens Leader and Minister for Climate Change in the Australian Capital Territory. On 16 May 2019 he moved a motion…
Read more

Region of Catalonia in Spain declares a climate emergency

On 15 May 2019, the Catalan government declared a climate emergency. Catalonia is a region comprising about 7.5 million people, who…
Read more

Australia: Greenpeace action on Sydney bridge to call for climate emergency declaration

On 14 May 2019, Greenpeace supporters climbed the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia, to demand that Prime Minister Scott Morrison declares a climate emergency. The action was streamed live on Facebook and Youtube just like a full news tv coverage with cameras on location, prerecorded interviews and commentators in the studio…
Read more

Climate emergency in the mainstream: clippings

Clippings from the climate emergency news and social media streams in May 2019 – Greta Thunberg tweeted: “Over 500 regional councils around the world have declared climate emergency. As well as 2 nations. Who’s next? #ClimateBreakdown #EcologicalBreakdown” …
Read more

Switzerland: Climate emergency declarations critisised for being political rhetoric

In Switzerland, politicians and media commentators are discussing whether the climate emergency declarations and resolutions that have been declared in eight of the country’s cities and municipalities will lead to action at an entirely new level or eventually be overlooked as fluffy, non-binding policy statements …
Read more

Ireland declares a climate emergency

“Its official. Ireland becomes 2nd country in the world to declare a #ClimateEmergency & Dáil also agreed to endorse all the recommendations of the Oireachtas Climate Action Report .Definitely one of the highlights for me as a @greenparty_ie TD. My children are thrilled.” By making an amendment…
Read more

Alex Marshall’s climate emergency speech

Listen here:

In other news

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wave of councils declare a climate emergency

Two years ago there was one: Darebin City Council. Then there were eight. Then forty… Today, Council climate emergency declarations are being replicated around the world: Close to 300 councils have taken it on board on behalf of their 20 million residents.


“Many argue we need a Churchill to lead us, that only a strong leader can take charge in a crisis and show us the way forward. Or maybe we need a climate “Pearl Harbour” – a major single event. This is not how systems usually change, but especially not in a globalised and connected world. Yes, we need leadership and across all sections of society. But the “Churchills” emerge from a context and the context shift we need is to accept we have a crisis. Critically, this acceptance is a distributed social phenomenon, not a technical question of science or evidence. This brings me back to Darebin in Melbourne…”
~ Paul Gilding, 11 September 2018

Ballarat City Council acknowledges the climate emergency

On 21 November 2018, the Ballarat City Council passed a Notice of Motion from Councillor Belinda Coates noting the IPCC report and acknowledging the climate emergency.

Five local residents came to speak in support of the motion, including Miriam (left on the photo above) and Anna (middle) – a student who is organising a school strike at Trades Hall in Camp Street in Ballarat on 30 November 2018. Belinda Coates (right), member of the Greens, moved the motion.

Councillors pointed out that they already have plans in place for council operations to go carbon neutral by 2025. Others remarked that there was more that could be done with local planning laws, transport plans and the like.

Five voted in favour, two against.

That Council

1. Notes the recent October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change.

2. Notes the successful motion to the Municipal Association Victoria (MAV) May 2017 to recognise that we are in a state of ‘climate emergency’ that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including local councils.

3. Acknowledges the ‘climate emergency’ and the need for urgent action by all levels of government, including local councils.

4. Acknowledge the need for priority resourcing of the carbon neutral and 100% renewables action plan and prioritisation of initiatives that move us towards carbon neutrality and 100% renewables.

5. Councillors receive a briefing from officers on how to best act on this ‘climate emergency’ acknowledgment and ensure that this is embedded into the ‘carbon neutrality and 100% renewables action plan’, council plan review and future strategies.

MOVED: Cr Coates, SECONDED: Cr Moloney
FOR: Coates, Moloney, Harris, Hudson, McIntosh
AGAINST: Taylor, Tillett


» Ballarat City Council – 21 November 2018:
Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda with attachments (PDF, 300 pages)

On 3 October 2018, City of Ballarat Council voted unanimously to become a member of Cities Power Partnership as part of ramping up its local climate action, moving towards renewables and becoming a carbon neutral city.

The Council committed early last year to strive towards a target to aim for carbon neutrality and 100% renewables by 2025.

The municipality has solar hot water systems for around 20 facilities and solar panels on the rooftops of 10 major buildings.

The Cities Power Partnership is a free national program that brings together Australian cities making the switch towards clean energy.


Related news

» Climate Emergency Declaration – 13 November 2018:
United Kingdom: Bristol City Council declares a climate emergency

Councils switching to emergency mode

Get involved by taking action with our local Surf Coast Shire Council

Our campaign is called CACE – Community Action in the Climate Emergency – and has already got four Australian Councils to declare a climate emergency and start to move into emergency mode and with six local governments in America now follow our lead including Los Angeles City.

Why emergency?
Well, we are in one. Current levels of greenhouse gases will cause an environmental and human catastrophe, and we need to act now while we still can.

So why councils?
With most state and federal government captured by fossil fuel interests or too weak to act Bryony and Adrian chose to focus on getting local governments to lead where state and federal government and most environmental NGO’s are failing us.

With enough councils in emergency mode, this will force state and federal governments to follow suit.

This is how small groups of people can start a process of changing the world by taking action with their local council.

» Join us on

» Read more about CACE on