Declaring a Climate Emergency – what’s this all about?

What does it mean?

Oxford Dictionaries declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate. It defined 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’. However, the term ‘climate emergency’ has been around for some time, certainly before 2009.

What declarations have been made?

The first declaration of a climate emergency would seem to have been made by Darebin in December 2016, a council located in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne following sustained protests by various groups. It passed the motion that ‘Council recognises that we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including by local councils’, and it agreed to establish an Energy and Environment Working Group to further develop Council proposals for a Darebin Energy Foundation and a Darebin Nature Trust.

At a UK government level the Scottish Parliament declared a climate emergency on 28 April 2019, making Scotland arguably the first country to do so. This was quickly followed by the National Assembly for Wales on the 29 April and then the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the UK as whole in 1 May.

The UK Government’s current target is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050. This target was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body.

It has been documented by CACE (Council Action in the Climate Emergency) that as of November 2019 over 1200 local councils across 25 countries have declared a Climate Emergency.

What actions are being taken?

Declaring a climate emergency is not be an end in itself – plans and resources to address the emergency must follow. Actions need be taken at various levels by Individuals, community groups, businesses, local government, national government and international bodies.

Here at our local level the Chichester District Council approved in January 2020  a Climate Emergency Initial Action Plan which includes minimising emissions from new housing,  reduction in food waste, increased tree planting,  enhancing cycle and walking paths, increased electric vehicle charging points and promoting life style changes.

At the UK national level on 27 June 2019 the UK government amended the Climate Change Act and set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the UK economy by 2050. According to the Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) UK emissions were 44% below 1990 levels in 2018. The first (2008-12) and the second carbon budget (2013-17) have been met and the UK is on track to meet the third (2018-22) carbon budget, but is not on track to meet the fourth, which covers the period 2023-27.

UPDATES FROM THE UK GOVERNMENT

The UK Governement introduced its enhanced Enviroment Bill on 30 January 2020.It includes new powers to stop the exports of polluting plastic waste to developing countries, which could prevent harmful waste from being shipped out of sight whilst boosting the UK’s domestic recycling system.

On 4 February 2020 the government published the final estimates of UK territorial greenhouse gas emissions going back to 1990. A summary of the statistics can be found here.

CLIMATE EMERGENCY SOURCES

A vast and increasing number of organisations and pressure groups have arisen concerned with various aspects of climate change and how it might be addressed – examples of those found are noted below.

We welcome additions to this list and your contributions to the climate emergency debate via your comments below.

350.Group
https://350.org/about/
An international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

Campaign against Climate Change
https://www.campaigncc.org/
The UK-based Campaign against Climate Change (CCC) exists to push for the urgent and radical action we need to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate. It provides a range of resources for councillors and campaigners

Centre for alternative technology
https://www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/
The Centre for alternative technology (CAT) is an educational charity located in Wales dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change.

Client Earth
https://www.clientearth.org/
ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect the planet and the people who live on it. They have lawyers and environmental experts across the world who are fighting against climate change and to protect nature and the environment.

Climate Coalition
https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/
UK-based body dedicated to action against climate change representing over 130 organisations across the UK, including the Women’s Institute, the National Trust, and the RSPB. The Climate Coalition is the operating name of the Climate Movement a registered charity.

Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation In Action
https://www.cedamia.org/about/
Australian-based Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation In Action (CEDAMIA) campaigns for a Climate Emergency Declaration at all levels of government. They also campaign for state/territory governments to ban new climate-damaging projects via the No More Bad Investments (NMBI) campaigns, and for local councils to implement Climate Emergency plans.

Climate Emergency Declaration
https://climateemergencydeclaration.org/
This site is hosted in Australia by a network of climate emergency action advocates. Its goal is for governments to declare a climate emergency and mobilise society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilisation, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems.

Climate Emergency UK
https://www.climateemergency.uk/
Climate Emergency UK monitors the ‘Climate & Environmental Emergency’ development in the United Kingdom at both local authority and national government level.

Climate Group
https://www.theclimategroup.org/about
An international non-profit, founded in 2004, with offices in London, New Delhi and New York to accelerate climate action by bringing together powerful networks of businesses and governments, to shift global markets and policies, towards this goal.

Committee on Climate Change
https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/
The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.

Council Action in the Climate Emergency
https://www.caceonline.org/blog/dont-use-climate-emergency-in-vain-target-setting-in-the-climate-emergency
CACE (Council Action in the Climate Emergency) based in Australia was created to encourage and support councils adopting a Climate Emergency response. CACE is an initiative of Adrian Whitehead and Bryony Edwards in 2017 in response to their successful campaigning with Darebin Council.

Environmental Defense Fund
https://www.edf.org/our-work
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a US based organisation focussing on climate, oceans, ecosystems and health.

Extinction Rebellion
https://rebellion.earth/
An international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. Numerous Extinction Rebellion groups actively campaign for the declaration of a climate emergency. There is a local Chichester branch Extinction Rebellion Chichester https://xrchi.uk/

Friends of the Earth
https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/what-can-I-do-to-stop-climate-change
Part of an international community dedicated to protecting the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. Leads campaigns, provides resources and information, and aims to drive real solutions to the environmental problems.

Global justice now
https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/campaigns/climate-and-energy
Promotes the idea of Energy democracy  – creating an energy system which is democratic, shifts quickly to renewables and keeps electricity affordable for all.

Go Fossil Free
https://gofossilfree.org/
In the UK, it is mainly focused on divestment campaigning — asking public institutions to cut their political, social and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment was established by the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008 to create a world-leading centre for policy-relevant research and training on climate change and the environment, bringing together international expertise on economics, finance, geography, the environment, international development and political economy.

Greenpeace
https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/climate-change/
A Campaigning organisation focussing on changing the way we live.

International Energy Agency
https://www.iea.org/about/mission
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative analysis, data, policy recommendations, and real-world solutions to help countries provide secure and sustainable energy for all.

Natural Resources Defense Council
https://www.nrdc.org/issues/climate-change
a US-based organisation that tackles the climate crisis at its source: pollution from fossil fuels. They work to reduce dependence on these dirty sources by expanding clean energy across cities, states, and nations and for example, winning court cases that allow the federal government to limit carbon pollution from cars and power plants.

Nature Conservancy
https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-priorities/tackle-climate-change/
Focuses on innovative, science-based solutions that match the urgency of this crisis, such as promoting clean energy and restoring forests from Brazil to Indonesia and working to ensure a clean energy future.

Sandbag
https://sandbag.org.uk/
A non-profit climate change think tank based in London and Brussels. Uses data analysis to build evidence-based climate policy. The London branch focuses on accelerating the global coal phase-out, whilst the Brussels branch covers EU industrial policy and the EU ETS.

Statistical Review of World Energy
https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html
The Statistical Review of World Energy provides energy data for the past 68 years. In addition to the raw data, the Statistical Review also provides a record of key energy developments and events through time.

Town and County Planning Association (TCPA)
https://www.tcpa.org.uk/
Campaigns for the reform of the UK’s planning system to make it more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and to promote sustainable development. Has produced a  guide to planning for climate change  aimed at local authorities

Transition Chichester
http://www.transitionchichester.org/about/
A group keen to promote and embrace change which helps create a sustainable local environment and a more resilient community.

Tyndall Centre
https://www.tyndall.ac.uk/about
The Tyndall Centre is a partnership of universities bringing together researchers from the social and natural sciences and engineering to develop sustainable responses to climate change.

UK Government
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/climate-change-explained
Explanations and guidance from the UK Government.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
https://unfccc.int/about-us/about-the-secretariat
Focussing in its early years largely on facilitating the intergovernmental climate change negotiations, the secretariat today supports a complex architecture of bodies that serve to advance the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

World Wildlife Fund
https://www.wwf.org.uk/what-we-do/area-of-work/climate-change-and-energy
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is an international campaigning organisation to drive changes in policy and legislation. In the UK it is working to ensure that the UK government is held to account on reducing its carbon emissions. Its focus is on 3 main areas: power, transport and buildings (accounting for 90% of UK emissions).

 

2 thoughts on “Declaring a Climate Emergency – what’s this all about?

  1. We have a local branch of XR with details available through the website https://xrchi.uk/
    The CPRE have a Sussex wide campaign to draw attention to planning permissions granted for houses in floodplains.
    I don’t see any reference to Transition Chichester either; http://www.transitionchichester.org/about/ Transition Chichester has developed into EcoChi who are visible in town daily at Drapers Yard with a shed full of green information. TC are also responsible for several food growing sites in town eg the BIshop’s Palace horticulture area, Oaklands Park Community Garden site and Orchard and Whyke Community Orchard.

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