Drafting a Climate Emergency Declaration motion

We’ve picked out our favourite clauses from the hundreds of Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) motions we’ve seen when updating the global CED map and ICEF list on our global page. You can find most of the resolution clauses and links to the full motion texts passed by local councils and other jurisdictions by clicking the ‘more’ expand links under each entry on the country-specific pages (reached via the country links on the global page).

You might like to browse the motions already passed by other councils in your own country and look through our favourite clauses below for inspiration before you start drafting a CED motion for your own council, but naturally you will want to customise your CED motion to suit your local circumstances and culture.

The minimum requirement for a jurisdiction to be added to the global map and ICEF list is that there is a clear Climate Emergency statement in the motion that is passed, but we think the ‘best’ motions include all or most of the following main elements:

  1. The evidence: reference to the IPCC Special Report, recent increases in carbon emissions, and/or other indications of the urgency of taking action
  2. The precedents: the number of jurisdictions passing CED motions and/or local community pressure or petitions to do so
  3. Action so far: acknowledgment of current climate mitigation activities by local council BUT that more urgency is required
  4. The declaration: a clause clearly declaring or acknowledging the Climate Emergency
  5. Next actions: a resolution to draw up a comprehensive action plan and/or make climate a key focus when making all decisions
  6. Scope and targets: a focus on community-wide engagement and emissions reduction, not just council’s own operations, possibly with target dates for achievements
  7. Advocacy: a resolution to encourage other councils and higher levels of government to also take climate emergency action
  8. Local issues: actions related to specfic local climate concerns

1. The evidence

other good clauses...

2. The precedents

From Darwin City Council, Australia, 30 July 2019 motion:

c. declares its commitment to action on the devastating effects of climate change and by doing so joins nearly 600 jurisdictions worldwide, including 28 Australian councils, in recognising that human induced climate change represents a substantial threat to our community and the local environment we cherish

other good clauses...

From Prince Edward County Council, Canada, 28 May 2019 motion (P11-12):

NOW THEREFORE, The Council for The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward resolves: To support other communities that have elected to ‘name and frame’ this global crisis by officially declaring a climate emergency;

3. Action so far

From Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scotland, 27 June 2019 motion (P323):

2.We recognise the challenges ahead to tackle climate change and, whilst we have already made significant strides towards achievement of a regional net zero carbon status, we will seek to achieve this outcome by the year 2030 and, wherever possible embrace opportunities to accelerate our target date;

other good clauses...

4. The declaration

From Colchester Borough Council, UK, 17 July 2019 motion:

1. Declare a climate emergency and publicise this to the people of Colchester Borough to raise awareness and support the public to take effective action.

other good clauses...

From Light Regional Council, South Australia, 26 March 2019 motion P20-21:

2.Declares a climate emergency and in doing so accepts that the containment of climate change and its serious social and economic implications is a duty of utmost priority.

From Macclesfield Town Council, England, 3 June 2019 motion:
Short and sweet – this is the entire motion:

That the proposal is passed such that Macclesfield Town Council declares a Climate Emergency and that this affects all future decision making of the council.

From Frematle City Council, Western Australia, 22 May 2019 motion (P11-12):

3. Declare that we are in a state of climate and biodiversity emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including by local councils.

From Ryde City Council, NSW, Australia, 28 May 2019 motion P6:

(a)That Council publicly acknowledges that we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government; that human induced climate change represents one of the greatest threats to humanity, civilisation and other species; and that it is still possible to prevent the most catastrophic outcomes if societies, including local councils, take emergency action.

From Milton Town Council, Ontario, Canada, 22 July 2019 motion:

NOW BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Milton declare a climate emergency and that climate change mitigation is an immediate and continued priority for the municipality, as well as in the interest of partnership with our sister municipalities in Halton, and to fulfill its social obligations to act in the best interests of the Town of Milton and its citizens.

From South Ribble Borough Council, England, UK, 24 July 2019 motion:

This Council declares that the effect of climate change within the borough poses an immediate danger to the health and well-being of our residents and therefore proclaims a Climate Emergency with immediate effect. To combat this threat, the borough sets a goal of rendering the borough carbon neutral by the year 2030.

5. Next actions

From Wagga Wagga Council, Australia, 8 July 2019 motion:

commits to developing a Climate Emergency Plan in the 2019/2020 financial year and receive a report at the first meeting of Council in August from staff that includes the following:

vii a public education and support building campaign in order to provide broad community awareness for the declaration and move into climate emergency mode

other good clauses...

From Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scotland, 27 June 2019 motion (P323):

4.We will urgently review all policy and practice across our council directorates and departments to identify ways in which we can move further and faster on carbon reduction measures;

From Stratford-on-Avon District Council, England, UK, 15 July 2019 motion

Report back on…
(v) how the Council could best engage residents on the severity of the Climate Emergency, and the ways the Council could help facilitate local people and businesses to take independent action;

6. Scope and targets

From Byron Shire Council, NSW, Australia, 18 October 2018 motion Item 9.1:

3. That the Guidance Group develops a Shire-wide Community Climate Emergency Plan to further enhance resilience and reduce climate impacts in a timeframe that is as fast as practicably possible;

other good clauses...

From Bury Council, England, UK, 10 July 2019 motion:

4.The Council acknowledges that the public services in Bury alone cannot deliver the change that is needed and that leadership across our communities is required. On that basis, the Council will look to create Environmental Forums in each of the borough’s six townships to help develop a community response to the Climate Emergency;

7. Advocacy

other good clauses...

From Bellingen Shire Council, NSW, Australia, 27 March 2019 motion (P4-5):

2. Calls upon the State and Federal Governments to:
a.Declare a climate emergency, and
b.To back this up with legislated programs to drive emergency action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the lower of the Paris Agreements at 1.5 [degrees] 3.Writes to, the Member for Cowper, Member for Oxley, the Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, the NSW Environment Minister and the Federal Environment Minister, advising them of Council’s resolution and urges them to acknowledge a climate emergency and to act with urgency to address the crisis.
4.Encourages neighbouring Local Government Areas to join with us by declaring a climate emergency, developing their own Climate Emergency Plans and advocating to State and Federal Governments as per point (2).

8. Local issues

other good clauses...