On June 24th, 2019, the City of Sydney council declared a climate emergency, with councillors voting that climate change poses a serious threat to the people of Sydney and Australia. The council is now one of 12 councils in NSW and 25 across Australia that have made climate emergency declarations since 2017.
The council also called on the federal government to establish a Just Transition Authority to ensure that workers in the fossil fuels industry can find alternate employment, and to meet emission reduction targets in the Paris Agreement by reintroducing a price on carbon. This comes as part of Sustainable Sydney 2030, their long-term strategy to become more sustainable that has been implemented since 2007, when the council became the first to be carbon neutral. The introduction of the strategy followed 97% of residents saying that they wanted strong climate action, and has resulted in predictions that the council will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Globally, 717 local jurisdictions and governments across 16 countries covering over 135 million citizens have signed climate emergency declarations. In Australia, this translates to LGA’s in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the ACT covering over 10% of our population.
The UK was the first country back in May after a week of climate protests, followed by including the Welsh, Scottish and Irish governments, the Portugese Parliament, and most recently the Canadian House of Commons on June 17.
But just what is a climate emergency? Not to be confused with a ‘state of emergency’, there are no special legislative powers that accompany the declaration but more of an acknowledgment that climate change and policy surrounding it needs to be taken very seriously. It will also have a flow on effect to the policies passed by governments who have declared the emergency to ensure its effects on the climate and the earth are not only taken into account but also prioritised.
To find out more about declaring a Climate Emergency and how you can encourage your local government or council to do the same, take a look at here.
Main image from City of Sydney Facebook