Sample resources for CED motions at local councils

These samples of Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) resources provide a starting point to give you ideas about what to include in your own deputation speeches, petitions, emails to Councillors, and council motions. None of these are perfect! But you might like to pick out the parts you like and modify the local-specific content to suit your own region.

If you are still not sure where to start after reading through this page, get in touch! We’re always happy to talk through options and help where we can.

CED concept and practice

To give your council an overview of the CED concept, please refer them to this short Framework published by Darebin City Council. Or, read about Darebin’s Climate Emergency Journey.

Petitions

Most councils will only accept hardcopy petitions for tabling at a council meeting, so check your local council’s website for details. But, tabling a petition is really only helpful if you have not managed to persuade a Councillor to propose a CED motion yet.

Online petitions are useful though for attracting attention to your council CED campaign and reaching out to potential supporters. If you don’t have access to a convenient petition mechanism you can ask us to set it up under your own name on our ActionNetwork account and/or embed it on our website. That way YOU will be able to decide what words and image you wish to use (unlike some other CED petition templates), and you will get signers’ contact details (unlike using the Change.org petition mechanism).

SAMPLE PETITION:
You can see our Sample Council CED petition full size here. (Keep the petition demand part short if you are also going to collect hardcopy signatures because the demand will need to be printed on every petition sheet.)

Council CED motions

The texts of the sucessful motions at all the Australian councils that have declared so far are at https://www.cedamia.org/ced-regions-in-australia/. Motions passed in other countries can be found via the country links at https://www.cedamia.org/global/.

We suggest you aim to include the following main elements:
– reference to the IPCC Special Report, recent increases in carbon emissions, and/or other indications of the urgency of taking action
– acknowledgment of local progress by your local council so far
– a clause clearly declaring or acknowledging the Climate Emergency
– a resolution to draw up a comprehensive action plan
– a focus on community-wide emissions reduction and engagement, not just council’s own operations
– a resolution to encourage other councils and higher levels of government to also take action

See our favourite clauses from various CED motions passed so far at Drafting a Climate Emergency Declaration motion.

FAQ

Below are potential responses to some of the more common questions or objections from Councillors.

1. For those who want to use words other than Climate Emergency Declaration (CED)

Quite a lot of councils have declared a Climate and Ecological/Environment/Biodiversity Emergency rather than just a CED. You can see the motions passed by other councils and a lot of other data on cedamia’s global page. The term CED is used generically, but if you look at the motions on the individual country pages you’ll see quite a few that have included ‘ecological’ or similar in their CED clause, and quite a few of the Australian ones have acknowledged/recognised/noted the Climate Emergency rather than using ‘declare’. (For inclusion on the global map and list of CED places, a council motion must include ‘climate emergency’, but the other words can vary.)

2. Council is already taking a lot of climate-related action, so what difference does declaring a Climate Emergency make?

Many councils are indeed already taking a lot of action to reduce carbon emissions from their own operations, but to turn the Climate Emergency around we need the entire community to be taking action. A CED motion is a powerful public signal. It says ‘we are all in this together – council is doing such-and-such and here is what all of you can do too’. People need to know they are not the only ones trying to make a difference (because they think one household doing the right thing can’t make a difference).

3. What does a CED imply for future council actions?

Even councils that have been doing very well in terms of climate mitigation actions in the past recognise that they could do better or act with greater urgency regarding reducing the carbon emissions from their own operations, and in particular they could do a lot more to engage their residents with a sense of community-wide climate purpose. In general, passing a CED motion should mean that council subsequently puts a higher priority on climate-related initiatives

Tangible actions will vary considerably from council to council, and council staff would be in the best position to advise about the most cost-effective and rapid carbon-reduction measures a particular council could take. For example, would it be more effective to put solar on all council premises, or more effective to set up a revolving fund to make it easy for all homeowners in the area to install solar? Or, maybe it would be even more cost-effective to help local households transition to all-electric rather than gas+electric energy use.

4. What about budget implications?

A CED motion does not necessarily imply higher rates. It might simply mean effective carbon reduction measures are given a much higher priority when making budget decisions. For example, one UK council had recently allocated 500,000 pounds to refurbishing council buildings, but after their CED motion they decided to postpone that and instead allocate that money to immediate programs to help reduce the carbon footprint of all their residents.

Community education and engagement programs don’t necessarily cost anything more since council already budgets for various types of community engagement. A program to educate householders about choosing efficient electric appliances rather than gas appliances when they build or need a new appliance would cost council very little but would potentially greatly reduce the carbon emissions of the council area as a whole, particularly given that the percentage of renewable electricity on the grid is increasing rapidly and once it reaches net-100% renewables household use of electric appliances will have no carbon emissions at all.

5. Is a CED ‘just symbolic’ or ‘just words’?

It should not be! And most councils do in fact include specific actions or specific emissions reduction targets in their CED motions. If you look at the individual country pages under cedamia’s global page you’ll see some ‘progress so far’ entries saying what some councils have done since. (That info is far from comprehensive – it just reflects what has been reported in the media so far.) A new project in its infancy is designed to more systematically report council post-CED actions. The first of those reports can be seen here.

6. We don’t want to scare people by using emergency language

Many people are already scared, and the scariest thing is that most levels of government are not taking climate seriously enough and are not implementing the solutions we already have available and already know are necessary. The CED motions and action resolutions being passed by local councils (and higher levels of government in some countries) offer the first glimmer of hope in an otherwise frightening time.

There is also the ‘duty of care’ aspect. If there is a flood or fire emergency, people rely on the ‘authorities’ to warn them and give information about what everyone can and should do to stay safe. If those in authority say and do nothing, people will assume everything is fine and not do the things they could do to help. Climate is a ‘long emergency’, not a short-term one, but we need to treat it like the emergency that it is and give priority to reversing it asap before we reach irreversible climate tipping points.

7. It’s not council’s job – council should stick to ‘roads, rates, and rubbish’

Each state has its own Local Government Act, but all of them indicate that council’s role is much broader than provision of basic services. Click below to see what the legislation says about the function of local councils in your state.

New South Wales


NSW Local Government Act
Excerpt:
[8A(2)] states that, when making decisions, Councils should

(b) Councils should consider social justice principles.
(c) Councils should consider the long term and cumulative effects of actions on future generations.
(d) Councils should consider the principles of ecologically sustainable development.

and at 8C, (h)

Councils should manage risks to the local community or area or to the council effectively and proactively.

Northern Territory


NT Local Government Act
Excerpt:

11 Principal role of council
The role of a council is:
(a) to act as a representative, informed and responsible decision-maker in the interests of its constituency;
12 Functions of a council
(1) The functions of a council include the following:
(c) to provide for the interests and well-being of individuals and groups within the council area;
(d) to carry out measures to protect its area from natural and other hazards and to mitigate the effects of such hazards
13 Objectives of a council
(h) generally to act at all times in the best interests of the community as a whole

South Australia


SA Local Government Act
Excerpt:

The functions of a council include –
(c) to provide for the welfare, well-being and interests of individuals and groups within its community;
(d) to take measures to protect its area from natural and other hazards and to mitigate the effects of such hazards;
(e) to manage, develop, protect, restore, enhance and conserve the environment in an ecologically sustainable manner, and to improve amenity;
(f) to provide infrastructure for its community and for development within its area (including infrastructure that helps to protect any part of the local or broader community from any hazard or other event, or that assists in the management of any area);

Queensland


Queensland Local Government Act
Excerpt:

(2)The local government principles are—
(a)transparent and effective processes, and decision-making in the public interest; and
(b)sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services; and
(c)democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement; and
(d)good governance of, and by, local government; and
(e)ethical and legal behaviour of councillors and local government employees.

Tasmania


Tas Local Government Act
Excerpt:

20. Functions and powers
(1) In addition to any functions of a council in this or any other Act, a council has the following functions:
(a) to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the community;
(b) to represent and promote the interests of the community;
(c) to provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal area.
(2) In performing its functions, a council is to consult, involve and be accountable to the community.

Victoria


Vic Local Government Act
Excerpt:

3C Objectives of a Council
(1) The primary objective of a Council is to endeavour to achieve the best outcomes for the local community having regard to the long term and cumulative effects of decisions.
(2) In seeking to achieve its primary objective, a Council must have regard to the following facilitating objectives—
(a) to promote the social, economic and environmental viability and sustainability of the municipal district;
(b) to ensure that resources are used efficiently and effectively and services are provided in accordance with the Best Value Principles to best meet the needs of the local community;
(c) to improve the overall quality of life of people in the local community;

3D What is the role of a Council?
(2) The role of a Council includes—
(a) acting as a representative government by taking into account the diverse needs of the local community in decision making;
(b) providing leadership by establishing strategic objectives and monitoring their achievement;
(c) maintaining the viability of the Council by ensuring that resources are managed in a responsible and accountable manner;
(d) advocating the interests of the local community to other communities and governments;
(e) acting as a responsible partner in government by taking into account the needs of other communities;

Western Australia


WA Local Government Act
Excerpt:

1.3. Content and intent

(3) In carrying out its functions a local government is to use its best endeavours to meet the needs of current and future generations through an integration of environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity.

Deputations at Council meetings

Most councils require that you register a couple of days in advance if you wish to address a council meeting (give a deputation) from the public gallery, so check you council’s website for details. This is a powerful thing to do to show public support when there is a CED motion on the agenda, particularly if you can also pack out the gallery with supporters. Ideally the person giving the deputation will be a local resident (but there can be more than one deputation, so it might be helpful to also arrange for a local climate scientist to speak).

Generally there is a time limit of 5 minutes, but short and sharp is best (3-4 minutes).

SAMPLE DEPUTATIONS:

You can see Zel Whiting’s deputation speech at the 16:05 minute mark here. (And if you want to see the negative arguments you might expect from some Councillors, the debate at the Adelaide City Council starts at the 1:08:30 mark.)

Gemma Weedal’s deputation speech notes are below, but note that is probably way too long! Just pick out the topics you think best to include.

Deputation to Marion Council Meeting – Climate Emergency Declaration
• Introduce myself and why I care about this issue
o Marion Council resident, live in Hallett Cove with my partner
o Love living in this area, particularly our stunning coastline
o First developed an understanding of the seriousness of the climate emergency around 10 years ago after attending an environmental conference and learning about the climate science
o Potential dangerous impacts were terrifying, but also learned that we have the solutions to solve crisis – just need the will – and that gave me hope
o Since then, been committed to advocating and campaigning for effective climate action
• Member of grassroots community group FFSA, thank Council for your support of the Accelerate film screening at the Marion Cultural Centre last week
• Recognise that a number of concerned community members have come along tonight to show support for motion – great turnout even at short notice shows the breadth of community concern around this issue
• Acknowledge the great work Council is already doing in this area and for demonstrating climate leadership
o Climate change policy
o Resilient South partnership
o Work in energy efficiency & renewables – installation of solar, lighting upgrades and hybrid vehicles in fleet
o Coastal climate change management, Water management, Greening
o Community education & engagement
• These are all excellent initiatives, Marion well placed to take the logical next step of declaring a climate emergency in recognition of the urgency and scale of problem, and to be amongst the first Councils in SA to do so
• IPCC Special Report – a wake-up call indicating that we all need to do more as quickly as possible
• On track for almost 4 degrees of warming globally, need to keep to 1.5 degrees to avoid worst impacts of CC
• Scientists recognise that the maximum safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350ppm – levels are now well over 400ppm
• Climate change is here now – human activity (largely burning of fossil fuels) has already resulted in the planet being 1 degree warmer than average
• Already seeing devastating impacts across the planet –displacement of populations, drought-induced famine, disappearing Pacific Islands, unprecedented habitat & species loss and increased extreme weather events
• In Australia, over the Summer we have seen devastating floods, bushfires, mass fish deaths, livestock species loss and record-breaking heatwaves – this is becoming the new summer norm in a warming climate
• The BOM announced that Jan was the hottest month in history in Australia and Adelaide broke the record for hottest temp in any capital city on that sweltering 47 degree day
• Locally, climate change will mean more extreme heatwaves, increased bushfire danger, reduced rainfall but increased flood risk, sea level rise in coastal suburbs like Hallett Cove, coastal erosion and storm surges
• Councillors, there is no doubt that this is a climate emergency
• An emergency scale crisis demands emergency style solutions that match the scale and speed required
• Unfortunately we no longer have the luxury of small, incremental steps (winning too slowly is same as losing)
• 80% of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground for a chance of saying below 2 degrees of warming, and we need to urgently transition towards 100% renewable energy
• But we can’t start implementing the solutions that are needed until we tell the truth about the scale and urgency of the problem – this takes courage and leadership, and is absolutely necessary
• Asking Marion Council to continue its leadership in this field, but not asking to do something unprecedented
• 400+ councils globally have already passed similar motions declaring a Climate Emergency, including 12 so far in Australia
• Adelaide CC, Adelaide Hills, and Light Regional also having motions on the agenda tonight
• A Climate Emergency declaration issued by a body in authority, such as a government or local council, can be a powerful catalyst for community-wide action if paired with a clear action plan
• The current global wave of local councils declaring a Climate Emergency is finally providing an element of hope and an action pathway, thereby channelling the energy, focus, and resources of their communities towards resolving the emergency and restoring safety
• By passing this motion, you will be setting a powerful example, empowering your community to act and encouraging other councils to follow suit
• The other week, thousands of students took to the streets of Adelaide demanding that adults step up and take stronger action on climate change for the sake of their future. They joined 150,000 around Australia and 1.6 million globally – biggest day of climate action in history.
• These kids have learned about the climate science in school, they’ve seen the weather getting more extreme – but the action from governments isn’t matching up with the urgency of the problem
• Nothing is more worrying than governments failing to take the climate emergency seriously and getting on with the actions we all know are necessary and available
• Local councils declaring a Climate Emergency and committing to action is giving them, and everyone else, a ray of hope
• Leave you with a quote from inspiring Swedish teen climate striker Greta Thunberg
Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.

Emails to Councillors

Emails are best if they are from local residents and if they include a request to discuss in person. Tailor your email to reflect the current situation:
– either ask the Councillor to consider proposing a CED motion and ask to meet to discuss that
OR
– if a CED motion is already on the agenda, wait till the agenda is published (probably just a few days before the meeting) and then email the Mayor and all Councillors to ask them to support the motion.

SAMPLE EMAILS:

If you want to persuade a Councillor to consider proposing a CED motion, CACE-Council Action in the Climate Emergency has prepared a sample email here.

If you already know a CED motion will be on the agenda, the email texts below might give you some ideas. For an up to date count on how many councils have declared globally and in your own state, see https://www.cedamia.org/global/.

Dear Councillors,

As a resident of Moonee Valley, I want to congratulate you on the wonderful efforts that you are already taking to care for my future, especially though the MV2040 strategy. However, I am also deeply concerned about the state of our planet and what the future holds for me, my family and my friends and I believe we are facing a climate emergency.

I therefore ask that you please support a climate emergency declaration to acknowledge the situation. Once this important step is taken, we then need the follow through with resources and action to fully address the crisis as rapidly as possible. I will fully support you in this and would love to see all residents and Council working together to create a stronger community and a better future for all of us!

Yours Sincerely,

Dear Lord Mayor Verschoor and Councillors,

Yesterday Zel Whiting (an Adelaide School Striker) and myself met with Clr Robert Simms and Michelle English to ask Adelaide City Council to declare/acknowledge that we face a Climate Emergency that requires everyone, Council and the wider community, to take urgent action.

Adelaide City Council has already been taking leadership on climate for many years, and in particular with the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Plan, so we think you are in a great position to also join the growing wave of local councils globally that are declaring a Climate Emergency. Typically they are committing to develop even more ambitious action plans – plans that go beyond council’s own activities to also engage their communities in an empowering sense of shared action.

So far almost 400 local councils in 5 countries, including 12 in Australia, have passed Climate Emergency motions. The global list includes major cities like Los Angeles, Vancouver, and London, but so far no Australian capital city councils have done so. We’d love Adelaide to be the first!

Gawler Town Council is the only SA council to have passed a Climate Emergency motion so far, but Adelaide Hills and Light Councils both have such a motion on the agenda for their March meetings.

As I’m sure you know, thousands of School Strikers took to the streets in Australia last November, and thousands more in Europe as well more recently. A massive global student strike day is this Friday. The scariest thing about the Climate Emergency is that, until recently, no level of government seemed to be taking it seriously. Action brings hope. The local councils that are declaring a Climate Emergency and committing to urgent action are providing the first ray of hope in an otherwise very frightening time.

As a capital city council you are in a great position to have a huge influence on other councils, the state and federal governments, and on the general public. A brief explanation of the importance of making a public declaration is at Why Declare?.

I hope you will support our request for Adelaide City Council to take this vital and inspiring step. I’m more than happy to discuss this further with you if you wish.