Drafting a Climate Emergency Declaration motion

We’ve picked out the good clauses that caught our eye from the hundreds of Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) motions we’ve seen when updating the global CED map and International Climate Emergency Forum (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 ‘motion text’ 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. CACE also has tips on drafting CED motions here.

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

From Bristol City Council, UK, 13 November 2018 motion:

The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published last month, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared to a 1.5°C rise, and told us that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities

other good clauses...


From Lismore City Council, Australia, 13 August 2019 motion:

That Council:
1. Publicly declares the world is 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, other species, and the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems; and that it is possible to prevent the most harmful outcomes if societies take sustained emergency action, including local councils, and
a. Notes the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
b. Notes the Federal government’s latest emissions data showing we are increasing, not reducing our carbon emissions;

From the Quebec Declaration of Climate Emergency, August 2018:

Considering that there are dangerously increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere (mainly due to large-scale industry, transportation and agriculture, and the melting permafrost) and that the average global temperature is rising at an alarming rate and disrupting climate worldwide at an unprecedented rate

From Gawler Town Council, Australia, 22 January 2019 motion:

a) notes the October 2018 Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
b) notes the Federal government’s latest emissions data showing we are increasing, not reducing our carbon emissions;

From City of Santa Cruz, USA, 27 November 2019 motion:

WHEREAS, climate change-fueled droughts, famines, and diseases have already killed millions of people in the Global southern hemisphere, and displaced millions more; and
WHEREAS, indigenous and low-income communities and communities of color in the United States and abroad have suffered the gravest consequences of global warming; and WHEREAS, the death and destruction already wrought by global warming of approximately 1°C demonstrate that the Earth is already too hot for safety and justice for the world’s most vulnerable people; and
WHEREAS, according to the latest climate projections, humanity is on track to warm the Earth a sustained average of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as soon as 2026

From Dublin City Council, Republic of Ireland, 13 May 2019 motion:

1. Acknowledges that the Climate Change Strategy of the four Dublin local authorities states that we must act now if we are to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C;
2. Notes with concern that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions significantly exceed our international commitments and are rising;

2. The precedents

Note: The number of jurisdictions that have declared changes almost daily. Check the latest figures here.

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;

From Porirua City Council, New Zealand, 26 June 2019 motion:

1. Support Porirua’s Rangatahi and join with other cities and districts in declaring a climate emergency.

From Vancouver City Council, Canada, 16 January 2019 motion:

3. Local governments around the world are taking new actions to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown and calling on senior levels of government for a more urgent, emergency response;

3. Action so far

This isn’t an essential clause, but it can be useful to inform your community of the climate actions council has already been taking, and to state that greater urgency is required.

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...

From Vancouver City Council, Canada, 16 January 2019 motion:

7. The City of Vancouver has been taking action on sustainability through its Greenest City and Renewable City Action plans, setting a solid foundation for ramping up ambition and action to meet the moral and scientific urgency ofclimate change;

From Highland Council, UK, 9 May 2019 motion:

(ii) revisit the Carbon Clever declaration made by the Council in 2012 with a view to updating and working towards a carbon neutral Highlands by 2025;

From Melbourne City Council, Australia, 16 July 2019 motion:

1.2. Notes that the City of Melbourne, since 2003, has had a strong record of reducing emissions, restoring and conserving biodiversity, and preparing our community for the impacts of climate change.

4. The declaration

Ideally the declaration clause is a strong public signal – a ‘call to action’ for all parts of the community and all levels of government – and a promise of action by council itself. Unfortunately a few councils on the global CED map and list have settled for circuitous declaration clauses that imply council thinks there is a climate emergency, such as just asking other levels of government to act on the emergency, but as a public signal they are very weak compared with the various declaration clauses below.

If your council is concerned about potential confusion with any other legislation pertaining to emergencies, take a look at the example from London City Council, Ontario, below.

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

RESOLVED:
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.

other examples of strong declaration clauses...

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 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.

From West Nipissing Council, Canada, 23 April 2019 motion:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT
the Municipality of West Nipissing officially declare a climate emergency for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change.

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.

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 Isle of Man Parliament (Tynwald), 18 June motion:

That Tynwald welcomes the Chief Minister’s statement that the Government recognises the climate change emergency that is facing the planet and is committed to immediate action on this;

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 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 London City Council, Ontario, Canada, 23 April 2019 motion excerpt:

it being noted that the above-noted Declaration is not intended to invoke the City of London’s Emergency Response Plan or to interfere with the responsibilities and power delegated to the Mayor to declare or to terminate a local emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990;

it being further noted that a climate emergency is distinct from the kinds of emergencies contemplated under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990, as it is a global emergency with impacts extending beyond London and Ontario

5. Next actions

From Launceston City Council, Australia, 8 August 2019 motion:

3. Immediately conduct an audit of all City of Launceston Operations to obtain current base line Greenhouse gas emission levels;
4. Complete the Council’s Sustainability Strategy by December 2019 for implementation commencing in 2020. The Strategy will need to address the following –
a. An implementation action plan for City of Launceston to strive towards achieving 100% neutrality of carbon emissions by 2025;
b. A renewable energy action plan for the City of Launceston to move towards 100% renewables as sources of energy by 2025; and
c. A plan for engaging and working with the community, business and not-for-profit sectors to reduce community emissions and move towards renewables.

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 Gibraltar Parliament 3 May 2019 motion:

6.Report to Parliament by the end of 2019 with a climate emergency action plan which will include carbon reduction plan.

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;

From Indigo Shire Council, Australia, 30 July 2019 motion:

— Purchasing low productivity cleared land within the Indigo Shire to plant it out with trees to capture carbon or encouraging other organisations and land owners to do the same.

From Victoria City Council, Canada,14 March 2019 motion:

1.Declares a climate emergency and commits to the objective of achieving carbon neutrality in the City of Victoria by 2030.
2.Directs staff to report back at the next update on the Climate Leadership Plan on the resource implications and potential amendments to the plan necessary to meet this objective.

From Ryde City Council, Austalia, 28 May 2019 motion:

(b)That a report be brought back to Council which examines how Council plans, policies and works programs can address the climate emergency, and ensure this is embedded into future Council strategic plans.

6. Scope and targets

Setting targets is tricky. Some councils have set either a 2025 or a 2030 carbon neutral target date, and some have set 2025 for council operations and 2030 for their entire community, but that can give the impression we still have plenty of time to act. Some might think saying ‘as soon as possible’ is a cop-out, but if that is sincere that is literally what we need. One option might be to say, ‘at the earliest date possible, but by [target-date] at the latest’.

From Swale Borough Council, UK, 26 June 2019 motion:

To provide leadership by taking all measures within our control to make Swale Borough Council’s own operations carbon neutral by 2025, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3).
To engage with businesses, organisations and residents to facilitate the action required to make the Borough of Swale carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3).

other good clauses...


From Gloucester City Council, UK, 11 July motion:

Ensure that the City Plan and revised Joint Core Strategy include policies to deliver zero carbon new builds at the earliest date possible, but by 2030 at the latest

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;

From Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, UK, 18 July 2019 motion:

2.Make Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council operations carbon neutral by Dec 2025 by ensuring that 100% of its heating and electrical needs are meet from renewable sources and cease the purchase and/or lease of any vehicle that is not low carbon;
3.Pledge to work towards making Basingstoke & Deane net zero carbon by 2030

From Tolosa Municipal Council, Philippines, 5 August 2019 motion:

The Municipality of Tolosa commits to a municipal-wide just transition and climate emergency mobilization effort to reverse global warming, which, with appropriate financial and regulatory assistance from the municipal government and the national government, ends municipal-wide greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible and no later than 2030, immediately initiates an effort to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere and accelerates adaptation and resilience strategies in preparation for intensifying climate impacts.

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;

From Alameda CIty Council, USA, 19 March 2019 motion:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that an urgent global climate mobilization effort to reverse global warming is needed as quickly as possible towards zero net emissions no later than 2030, and that the City of Alameda should actively participate in an effort to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere, and accelerate adaptation and resilience strategies in preparation for intensifying climate impacts;

From Port Moody City Council, Canada, 11 June 2019 motion:

AND THAT the City of Port Moody update its GHG emission targets to be in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report targets, and include in its Climate Action Plan and other community plans new bold actions that the City could pursue to achieve its targets,including, but not limited to, the followingsix actions:
1.aim to have 90% of all new residents live within an easy walk of their “daily needs”; 2.accelerate its goal of having 40% of trips in the City made by walking, biking, or transit by 2030, and continue to champion regional transit initiatives;
3.have 50% of all cars driven on City roads be zero emissions vehicles by 2030;
4.aim to have all new and replacement heating and hot water systems in buildings produce zero emissions by 2025;
5.by 2030, reduce the carbon content of new buildings and construction projects by 40% (compared to 2018); and
6.include targets for enhancement, including opportunities for creek daylighting/enhancement, foreshore protection and enhancement, establishing connectivity between Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) and enhancing forest health in the City’s ESA Management Strategy, and develop an urban forestry strategy that will move towards achieving the IPCC Goals;

7. Advocacy

From Fremantle City Council, Australia, 22 May 2019 motion:

5. Call upon the State and Federal Governments to:
a. acknowledge that there is a climate and biodiversity emergency, and
b. 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%.

other good clauses...


From Bristol City Council, UK, 13 November 2018 motion:

Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible

and

Individuals cannot be expected to make this reduction on their own. Society needs to change itslaws, taxation, infrastructure, etc., to make low carbon living easier and the new norm

From El Cerrito City Council, USA, 20 August 2019 motion:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the City of El Cerrito calls on the State of California and the United States of America to initiate an emergency mobilization effort to reverse global warming, reducing GHG emissions as quickly as possible.

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

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).

From Boulder City Council, USA, 23 July 2019 motion:

10.The City of Boulder calls on the State of Colorado, the United States Federal Government, and all governments and peoples worldwide to initiate an immediate social and economic mobilization to reverse global warming and ecological overshoot thatrestores near pre-industrial global average temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations, immediately halts the development of all new fossil fuel infrastructure,rapidly phases out the use of fossil fuels and the technologies which rely upon them, ends greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible, initiates an effort to safely draw down the excess carbon from the atmosphere, transitions to regenerative agriculture, ends the sixth mass extinction of species, protects and expands workers’ right to organize, creates and guarantees high-quality, high-paying jobs with comprehensive benefits for all those who will be impacted by this emergency response;

8. Local issues

This clause is not essential, but it can be helpful to raise awareness of specific local climate impacts council will be addressing.

From Noosa Shire Council, 18 July 2019 motion:

Council accepts the latest science on climate change provided in the October 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and acknowledges that the Noosa Shire is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including heat waves, more intense storms and sea level rise all of which is likely to adversely affect the Noosa natural and human environment. Council therefore declares that we are in a ‘Climate Emergency” which requires urgent action by all levels of government

other good clauses...


From Gawler Town Council, Australia, 22 January 2019 motion:

c) notes the recent data published by 202020 Vision Plan ‘Australia’s Suburbs Most Vulnerable To Extreme Heat’ and by the Australia Institute report ‘Heat Watch: Extreme Heat In Adelaide’, both reported in recent editions of the Advertiser, that Gawler is rated as one of Australia ‘hot spots’ for urban Heat Islands; that South Australia will be subject to the worsening effects of climate change due to global warming; and that Adelaide has the highest level of heat related mortality in the nation.

From Argentina Senate, 17 July 2019 motion:

2) That the Senate recognise the devastating impact that extreme weather events have on food production in Argentina, flooding, water supply, health and all the damages caused by forest fires and droughts to name a few.