Susan Close and School children launching Create4Adelaide climate action project

Sub-national governments and the Climate Emergency

Most of the 2,300+ known Climate Emergency Declarations (CEDs) so far have been at the local government level, but 41 have been by sub-national governments. They include UK devolved governments (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), state governments (eg. Hawaii, Quebec, and South Australia), six of the 26 cantons in Switzerland, eight of the 20 regional governments in Italy, four of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain, and seven of the 47 prefectures in Japan.

While sub-national governments have much greater capacity to take action on the climate emergency than lower levels of government, I don’t often see reports in English-language media about good things they are doing (although there may be more in other languages). It was refreshing therefore to see the recent reports on the sub-national government actions below.

Climate Emergency action in Wales

Wales was one of the earliest sub-national governments to declare a Climate Emergency, on 29 April 2019. They have adopted a net zero 2030 target for the public sector and a 2050 target (with numerous interim targets) for Wales as a whole.

In February 2023 the Welsh Government scrapped all major road schemes, placing the climate and ecological emergency at the heart of decision making on future infrastructure spending. After a review some of the previously planned road projects are likely to proceed, but priority is being given to rail, bus, walking, and cycling projects.

In March 2023 the Welsh Government announced £60 million to make schools and colleges across Wales more sustainable. This will include money for efficient low-carbon heating and LED lighting.

And an article just this week discusses the Welsh response to the highly topical issue of climate migration. On one hand they are dealing with strategies for relocation of the first Welsh town likely to become uninhabitable due to erosion, extreme storms, and sea level rise, Fairbourne in Gwynedd. But they also are focused on a humanitarian response to the broader global issue of climate displacement. This includes the Wales Strategic Migration Partnership, under which the Welsh Government provides funding to help coordinate refugee schemes and settle refugees in Wales.

Action in South Australia

South Australia has a long history of championing renewable electricity and reached an average of 70% renewable electricity over the last year. The state Upper House passed a Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) back in September 2019, then in May 2022 both houses passed a CED motion. The government also announced plans for a new green hydrogen project in SA at that time.

In February 2023 Deputy Premier Susan Close announced the Create4Adelaide project. This is a novel community outreach scheme involving a survey asking school children to vote on their top priorities for climate action, followed by a climate emergency art competition which will continue in schools throughout the year. The resulting artworks will be part of the 2024 Adelaide Festival of Arts. While none of that directly reduces carbon emissions, it is a clever mechanism for normalising climate emergency thinking and action.

Additionally, in April the SA Government will be holding an Industry Climate Change Conference exploring the path to net zero.

Hawaii state climate emergency action

The state of Hawaii passed a CED motion back in April 2021, so far the only US state to do so, and set a 2045 carbon neutral target date. Hawaii is also one of the very few sub-national governments to support the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty so far.

In February 2023 Hawaii created a $100 million climate fund to continue guiding the state’s adaptation and mitigation efforts. The fund will be used to leverage historic federal matching funds for climate action, to provide a year-round source of funding for government and communities, to facilitate better coordination between communities and agencies, and to receive donations to address climate issues from non-government organizations.

Other sub-national climate actions

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed a CED motion back in 2019 and was the first sub-national government to sign the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty. The ACT has already reached 100% renewable electricity and has various schemes in place geared to ending fossil gas use as early as possible.

The of Quebec Parliament passed a CED motion in 2019. While they’ve not signed the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty, they did ban all new coal, oil, and gas extraction and production in April 2022.

No state CED yet – but some good climate actions

New York state has not yet declared a Climate Emergency (New York City has), but they currently have a bill before the Senate to declare a climate emergency and place a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Similarly the New South Wales state government has not passed a CED motion but are making good progress on their Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) rollout.

In an even more encouraging move, NSW has announced an $8 million electrification pilot program during which householders in three towns (one each in an urban, regional, and remote community) will have the opportunity to ‘electrify everything’ and stop using fossil gas. The focus is on finding the best ways to upgrade existing homes with all-electric and energy efficient appliances and technologies before expanding to other towns and regions.

To my mind the really very best thing about this electrification pilot scheme is that it amounts to unusually explicit recognition by an Australian state government that ‘getting off gas’ is the way to go.

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

video of Onkaparinga Council debate of Climate Emergency Declaration motion

Climate Emergency Declarations: Why and why not?

In Australia, 22% of local councils have declared a Climate Emergency so far, the most recent being Onkaparinga City Council on 30 January 2023. You can watch the video of the debate concerning that motion at the 1:35:50 mark here.

Background information included in the agenda item stated that 15 councils in South Australia and a total of 112 nationwide had already declared a Climate Emergency (actual figures at that date were 16 and 116 respectively). This is not at all unusual. Arguments in favour of local council declarations have almost always cited the number of local and/or global precedents at the time the Climate Emergency motion was proposed.

The intended implication appears to be that such declarations are considered a good idea by numerous Councillors elsewhere and that passing the declaration motion would not be particularly radical or controversial – or perhaps that failing to do so is falling behind on current expectations.

However, one Onkaparinga Councillor seemed to think it significant that 78% of councils – the rest of the 537 local councils in Australia – had not passed a Climate Emergency Declaration motion. He wondered what their reasons were.

Number of CEDsTotal councils% of CED councils
Aust Capital Territory11100.00%
New South Wales3912830.47%
Northern Territory1175.88%
South Australia176825.00%
Western Australia111387.97%
Percentage of councils that have declared a Climate Emergency in each region of Australia

Local councils who have not declared a Climate Emergency

Unfortunately I don’t have comprehensive data on councils that have not (yet) declared a Climate Emergency. I have a record of 17 councils where such a motion was proposed and rejected, but there might have been a few more. Some of those simply voted down the declaration motion. Some amended the motion to remove the ‘climate emergency’ part then passed a more generic climate action motion.

I can’t be sure without contacting all the rest, but I suspect that in most cases council has not yet had a Climate Emergency Declaration motion on their agenda so has not yet voted either for or against. I’ve heard of some areas where lobbying efforts by local climate campaigners have fallen on deaf ears. Or, perhaps like my own area one or two Councillors react positively but they don’t want to propose a declaration motion until they are confident it will be supported.

However, is it that most non-declaring councils simply haven’t thought about a declaration, perhaps due to there being no active community campaign in their area, or do they actively oppose the concept? (Or do both cases amount to the same thing?)

Community support for Climate Emergency declarations

While a show of community support is often helpful there is not necessarily a clear correlation between community support and the outcome of a Climate Emergency Declaration motion. Observed success patterns amongst Australian councils include:

  • a concerned Councillor takes full initiative to propose and successfully achieve a declaration with no input from the local community
  • a concerned Councillor announces an intention to propose a motion, with members of the local community then providing a show of support via emails, deputations, attendance at the council meeting, or similar
  • local climate campaigners take the initiative to start the process via a petition, contacting Councillors, etc. They find a supportive Councillor to propose the motion and then organise deputations and community attendance at the relevant Council meeting.

Councillors proposing declaration motions have an easier job if they can show community support for their motion, but in some council areas even a huge and sustained show of community support has failed to achieve success. Ultimately the fate of the motion will depend on the opinions of the elected Councillors and the dynamics between them.

Declaring a Climate Emergency at a second attempt

At least six councils in Australia, including Onkaparinga, rejected a declaration motion the first time one was proposed but eventually passed one. In Onkaparinga’s case this might have been because there had been council elections in the meantime with new Councillors appointed but that wasn’t the case for some others.

The first attempt at a declaration motion failed at both Adelaide City Council and Holdfast Bay Council but both passed one several months later without any change in Councillors. In both cases there was a strong showing of community support at the first attempts, then no community involvement in achieving the subsequent successful attempt and no publicly obvious reason for the change of heart.

Post-declaration action planning

An amendment to the Onkaparinga motion added the following:

That a report come back to Council’s July 2023 meeting outlining the potential cost and investment opportunities and any reports from councils who have already declared a climate emergency for Council to enhance the Climate Change Response Plan 2022-27 in line with the Climate Emergency Declaration.

Happily there is a strong culture of mutual sharing between Climate Emergency councils, and progress reports are available from some of them (eg. Yarra City Council). Many have now published their Climate Action Plans, and links to those are in Column K at this Google spreadsheet. There is also a random collection of some of the less obvious post-declaration actions in various countries on cedamia’s Council post-CED actions page.

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

Coffs Youth Climate Alliance members with Councillor Cassell after council Climate Emergency Declaration

Climate Emergency trends in 2022

An overview of:

  • New Climate Emergency declarations
  • Local council Climate Emergency action reporting
  • Country-specific trends
  • VECO achievements
  • Klimakrise declarations in Norway
  • A new and worrying misuse of ‘climate emergency’
  • and a huge missed opportunity in the UK

New Climate Emergency declarations

The most recent Australian local council to declare a Climate Emergency was Coffs Harbour City Council. A long campaign by the Coffs Youth Climate Alliance (pictured above) was instrumental in getting the motion by Councillor Cassell over the line.

There were seven new declarations in Australia during 2022: Albury City Council on 28 March, Nillumbik Shire Council on 26 April, South Australia State Parliament (both Houses) on 31 May, Liverpool City Council on 27 July, Derwent Valley Council on 28 July, Whitehorse City Council on 12 September, then Coffs Harbour City Council on 8 December. In addition, Knox City Council upgraded their earlier ‘recognition’ to a Climate Emergency Declaration.

Globally there were 79 new declarations in 2022 (see the ‘Fact sheet’ tab of cedamia’s CED record sheet), the lowest annual count since the global spread of declarations began in late 2018. But there might have been more. I suspect that some are not reported in the media now that declarations are less novel, and declarations in some countries might not have been reported in English-language media.

At the local council level the 2022 declarations included 27 in USA, 9 in the UK, 8 in Canada, and 27 in Japan.

Officials displaying Peru's Climate Emergency declaration document
Emergencia Climática declaration in Peru

There were also two new national declarations: Peru in January and Vanuatu in May, meaning there are now 40 countries that have at least one Climate Emergency declaration either at the local or national level.

Local council Climate Emergency action reporting

These days the ‘climate emergency’ news articles in my daily Google Alerts feed are less often about new declarations. Instead an increasing number of articles report on newly adopted Climate Emergency Action Plans or give progress reports on plans and targets adopted earlier.

A lot of the action plans have taken 1-2 years to develop. That might seem awfully slow for an ’emergency’ response, but the focus seems to be on ‘getting it right’. In many cases there has been initial consultation and analysis of baselines, then development of a draft strategy, and finally a lengthy public consultation process. It’s understandable that all takes time, but I’ve often thought it would be good to pick one or two no-brainer actions – actions that anyone could predict would be part of the action plan – and to implement those immediately to show their communities they are serious about taking action.

One local council is now doing just that. Port Hope Municipal Council in Canada declared a Climate Emergency just last week. They plan to develop an action plan during 2023, but as an intermediate step they have asked staff to identify 3 priority actions to be adopted within 60 days.

Country-specific trends

After a while climate action plans all start to look much the same. (You can see quite a few of them in Column K of cedamia’s CED record sheet.) The required solutions are similar for most local jurisdictions in developed countries. Even so, some trends have emerged over the last year or so.

Banning the use of fossil gas in new buildings is becoming a feature of some action plans, particularly in Canada, California, and New York. In almost all US action plans, there is a strong emphasis on equity, on not leaving behind black and brown or other disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Two major responsibilities for larger UK local councils are local public transport and social housing. Accordingly their action plans tend to include decarbonisation of public transport and energy efficiency upgrades for social (and other) housing. Housing insulation schemes and replacement of gas and oil for home heating are particularly common themes. Tree planting and rewilding are also very common elements of UK action plans.

Local councils in Australia have a relatively narrow range of responsibilities and control – not quite just ‘roads, rates, and rubbish’, but close – so it’s not surprising that their action plans focus first on what they can control easily, that is, their own operations. Many seem to focus first on stationary energy, meaning solar panels on their own buildings, LED street lighting, and the VECO scheme below. Some are making a start on electrification of fleets, but that is harder due the high cost of EVs in Australia.

VECO achievements

We reported in an earlier blog article that Queenscliffe Borough Council had achieved a 73% reduction in emissions from it’s own operations in the first year since declaring a Climate Emergency. A large part of that achievement was due to participation in the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO) power purchase agreement whereby 51 Victorian Councils signed up to buy renewable electricity. Collectively this has resulted in a reduction of 172,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its first year.

Over the last week or so there have been yet more happy reports of the emissions reductions and cost savings achieved from other participating councils over the last year: Ballarat (12,000 tonnes and 25% cost saving), Moonee Valley (6,000 tonnes and $92,000 reductions), Bass Coast Shire (2,000 tonnes and $30,000 reductions), and Greater Shepparton (6,406 tonnes and $99,571 reductions).

Hopefully other regions in Australia will be inspired to develop similar collaborations, or perhaps they are already working on doing so. It must be an enormous amount of highly challenging work for the core organisers, but once the groundwork is done it sounds like a no-brainer for individual councils to sign on.

Klimakrise declarations in Norway

Extinction Rebellion die-in in Norway

With the addition of Norway, the number of countries shown in the global list as having at least one Climate Emergency Declaration made a sudden jump from 39 to 40 in December 2022, but this didn’t represent new activity. According to this article, quite a few local governments in Norway declared a ‘klimakrise’ back in 2019. So far we’ve only been able to confirm and add three of them due to a rearrangement of council boundaries in 2020.

At first glance ‘klimakrise’ looks like it means climate crisis, not climate emergency, and if that were so these declarations would not be added to the global list. However, it now appears that klimakrise does equate to climate emergency – please correct me if I am wrong!

The Extinction Rebellion banner in the photo above uses klimakrise whereas an equivalent English-language banner would use ‘climate emergency’. But perhaps a more convincing hint is provided in the agenda notes for one of the Norwegian declarations. It refers to the climate emergency declarations in the UK as being precedents and it refers to those UK declarations as being ‘klimakrise’ declarations.

A new and worrying misuse of ‘climate emergency’

This MalayMail article on 22 December 2022 contains the following quote from the Home Minister:

For the moment, there is no need to declare a Climate Emergency because the situation (flooding) is still under control.

This was in response to a motion from another MP “seeking the Dewan Rakyat to declare a climate emergency and discuss immediate flood mitigation measures”. From the context it is clear what they really mean is a declaration of flood emergency, not a climate emergency declaration in the usual sense.

Then, the very next day I saw this article title in Yes! Magazine: Social Connections Save Lives During Climate Emergencies. Here they are using ‘climate emergencies’ (plural!) to refer to extreme weather events such as storms, heat waves, and cold snaps.

That’s not what ‘climate emergency’ means! Those weather events are flood / storm / heat / cold emergencies. They may well be more dangerous as a result of our changing climate but, unlike the climate emergency, these climate-related emergencies are isolated symptoms not the huge underlying cause.

Missed opportunity in the UK

Screenshot of UK government energy saving campaign website
Screenshot from the campaign launch press release

The UK government is spending £18million on a public information campaign called ‘It All Adds Up’. That includes a new dedicated website containing fairly comprehensive information about what everyone can do to reduce their energy bills by reducing their energy use. Some tips involve no cost and immediate savings. Others involve up-front costs but promise savings in the longer term

It’s all excellent information, but climate does not get a mention at either of those links. The list of tips is actually a pretty good match for the climate actions listed on local council climate emergency pages as ways everyone can reduce energy use in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of everyone’s climate future.

With very little change the ‘It All Adds Up’ public information campaign could be transformed into a UK government campaign asking everyone to do their bit to help tackle the climate emergency. All the suggested actions could be badged as climate emergency actions – actions that everyone can take because, happily, doing so will also save them money.

Does this matter?

If the outcome is the same (lower energy use), does it really matter how it is ‘sold’ to the public? I think it matters greatly, for two reasons.

Firstly, it will take action and effort by everyone to turn the climate emergency around, and giving visibility to climate action efforts by lots of ‘ordinary’ people will help normalise taking climate action for its own sake. By focusing purely on the financial benefits of reducing energy use, the above campaign effectively makes energy saving actions invisible as climate actions. They become financial benefit actions. This is such a waste when reducing energy use is a large part of what many of us can do (and are doing) to help tackle the climate emergency!

Secondly, by focusing purely on energy poverty and financial savings, there’s an implication that the campaign is only relevant for poor households. Anyone who is rich enough to not care about high energy bills is not expected to do anything. But for climate reasons everyone should be reducing energy use, and perhaps that applies even more to rich households than to ones who are struggling.

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

question about the effect of Climate Emergency declarations on the local community

Community impact of Climate Emergency Declarations

Last week Whitehorse City Council in Victoria became the 115th jurisdiction in Australia to declare a Climate Emergency. That prompted the following question from a journalism student living in that area:

What is the effect within the local general community when their local council declares a Climate Emergency?

That raises another question – what percentage of the local population actually hear about the declaration?

I had to confess that I have no data on either point, and I can’t think of an efficient way of trying to collect that data either!

Do any readers have any data on reactions from the general public, or on how many people have heard (or not heard) about their local declaration? If so, please get in touch or leave a comment below this blog post. It will be valuable input even if it is just random anecdotal evidence, or the effect on you personally, rather than hard data.

What we do know

One theory of change driving the early Climate Emergency Declaration campaign was that a declaration by one local council would have influence in multiple directions. Not only would it have an effect on their own local community, it would also act sideways (to and from other local councils), upwards to higher levels of government, and inwards to their own staff.

  • Sideways: this has been working extremely well, as evidenced by the rapid spread of local government declarations. In addition, there are many examples of neighbouring councils sharing expertise and collaborating on initiatives, such as the power purchase agreement organised by the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO), resulting in 46 Australian councils now buying renewable energy for their own operations. At Queenscliffe Borough Council, for example, that helped achieve a whopping 73% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from council’s own operations in just one year.
  • Upwards: in some regions there has been a direct regional influence. The Quebec state government declared a Climate Emergency after 403 of their local councils had done so, and the South Australian state government did so after 16 local councils covering 45% of the population in SA had issued declarations. In other cases the influence has been general rather than regional, but it is unlikely any of the 18 national and 41 subnational government declarations would have occurred were it not for the precedents set globally by numerous local councils.
  • Inwards: anecdotal evidence suggests that at some councils, their declaration and subsequent climate action focus has built engagement and enthusiasm for increased climate action amongst council’s own staff and Councillors, but I have not seen any publicly available data. What we do know is that some councils have included an internal climate-related education component in their action plans, and quite a few have hired external consultants to help staff learn more about what they can do.
  • Outwards: as stated above, we have no data on the effect of their Climate Emergency Declaration within a council’s own local community. However, in a more general global sense there clearly has been a broad diffuse outwards effect which goes beyond what was anticipated by the sideways-upwards-inwards-outwards concept. The term ‘climate emergency’ is now used very widely and was heralded as being the word of the year in 2019. By December 2020 it had reached the UN, with Antonio Guterres urging all countries to declare a Climate Emergency. In addition, numerous non-government entities – universities, schools, businesses, churches, and association bodies (eg. Architects Declare) – have declared a Climate Emergency. (You can see some of them in a sadly incomplete list here.)

So, if we did have the data, what might success look like in terms of the effect on the local community when its own council declares a Climate Emergency?

Scenario 1: Sounding the alarm

A key reason for an official trusted body to declare any sort of emergency is so that everyone knows about the danger and knows what to do (and not do) to increase their own safety. Importantly, an emergency declaration also brings out the best in people, leading to abandoning business-as-usual and going ‘above and beyond’ for the sake of the common good.

Similarly, I’d like to think that when their local council declares a Climate Emergency, everyone in the local community firstly knows there has been a declaration, and secondly, those who have been complacent about climate will:

  • pay more attention to climate information
  • change their behaviour
  • start helping others around them to respond to the emergency

But does that actually happen? Have any local residents been jolted out of climate complacency and into taking climate-positive actions in response to their local council declaring a Climate Emergency?

Scenario 2: Giving visibility to collective community effort

We all know we can’t do it alone. Climate-aware people might be discouraged from taking action and prone to pushing climate issues to the back of their minds if they think nobody else is doing anything. Many local councils were already taking at least some climate action, and some were doing a very large amount, but were their local communities aware of that before they declared a Climate Emergency?

I’d like to think that local council declarations and public commitments to climate action make everyone aware that collectively everyone’s actions can make a difference because:

  • their own council is treating climate like an emergency and is taking action accordingly
  • they are actively encouraging everyone in the community to take action, and reporting back on what members of the community are doing
  • and plenty of other local councils and communities globally are also joining in to help

Of course we still need to convince higher levels of government to pull the big climate levers, but a rising tide of engagement and action at the community level should make that easier to achieve.

Scenario 3: Sowing the seeds

Even if some of the local community initially fail to hear that their council has declared a Climate Emergency, I’d like to think that it will be brought to their attention later via projects that effectively engage a wide range of residents. I’m thinking, for example, of this charming scheme by Leeds City Council in the UK:

Leeds City Council is once again encouraging residents to get involved in an annual seed collection to help with the ambitious target of planting 5.8m trees over 25 years across the city.

Each Autumn people of all ages collect acorns, beech nuts, sweet chestnuts, and conkers which are then delivered to a specialist nursery to grow into seedlings. They are then planted in local parks and green spaces. What an engaging, enjoyable, visible, and empowering community activity! I can imagine a scenario that goes something like this:

  • Mummy, why are all those people picking up acorns?
  • I don’t know. Let’s ask them.
  • Council’s Climate Emergency declaration…planting millions of trees…everyone helping…
  • Mummy can we help find acorns too?

Please let us all know about any particularly effective schemes your council might have found for engaging their entire community.

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

A semon representing new fossil fuel projects and a smiley-face world for a safe climate

Quebec: Climate Emergency Declaration and fossil fuel ban

Quebec declared a Climate Emergency in 2019, and in April 2022 Quebec banned all new coal, oil, and gas extraction and production. This ban is a massively important precedent, but I’d not heard about it until I saw this announcement from the David Suzuki Foundation.

Quebec has ended fossil fuel exploration and development projects on its territory — a historic victory for its ecosystems and population … proving that it’s possible to act on the science the climate emergency requires.

Charles Bonhomme, Public Affairs and Communications Manager

Quebec has huge amounts of hydroelectricity, perhaps making a fossil fuel ban easier to achieve than in many other jurisdictions. But even so, the Suzuki article mentions a handful of proposed oil and gas projects that now will never be able to go ahead. It also claims Quebec is the “first jurisdiction on Earth to ban fossil fuel development in its territory — a visionary lead for all of Canada, and the world.”

It is certainly visionary and makes Quebec an inspiring precedent to emulate, but it isn’t actually the first. The first subnational jurisdiction to ban new fossil fuel projects was the Australian Capital Territory when it signed on to the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty in June 2021. In May 2022 the state legislature of Hawaii also signed that treaty. However, neither the ACT or Hawaii had current or proposed fossil fuel projects, so in that respect the Quebec ban could be counted as the first to achieve a really tangible benefit.

Fossil fuel bans as a follow-on action to Climate Emergency Declarations

Banning new fossil fuel exploration and extraction seems like such a very obvious first step to take after declaring a Climate Emergency for any jurisdiction that has control over such things. It is essential even if it is hard to achieve. However, so far Quebec, the ACT, and Hawaii are the only ones I’ve heard of doing so out of the 41 subnational jurisdictions (states, provinces, etc) and 18 nations globally that have passed a Climate Emergency Declaration (CED).

South Australia has declared a Climate Emergency, and like Quebec has much less dependence on fossil fuels than many regions. Could South Australia be the next jurisdiction to sign the non-proliferation treaty and/or simply ban new fossil fuel projects?

In Australia it is the state governments that make fossil fuel decisions and building regulations rather than local councils, but Darebin (and maybe some other CED local councils) have sought state government exemptions to enable them to ban gas connections to new buildings in their area. Local councils can also sign on to the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty like five of the Australian CED councils have done (Sydney, Darebin, Maribyrnong, Moreland and Yarra), and they can lobby their state governments to do so too.

Climate Emergency Declarations in Quebec

Climate Emergency awareness seems to be unusually high in Quebec.

In Montreal 150,000 people turned up in May 2019 for the first of the really large global school climate strikes, by far the biggest turnout anywhere. For that particular strike, numbers of 30,000 or less were reported for other major cities. The September 2019 global school climate strike in Montreal was even bigger, with an estimated 500,000 attendees, compared with 100,000 or similar in other major cities.

GMob campaigners promoting climate emergency declarations in Quebec
Promotion of GMob Climate Emergency Declarations in Quebec

Climate Emergency Declarations in Quebec have taken a different path to those elsewhere, with no apparent cross-fertilisation between Quebec and other regions. The GMob Climate Emergency Declaration (Déclaration d’Urgence Climatique) is a strong declaration statement that was drafted by the GMob team. They lobbied all Quebec local councils to sign that declaration rather than having each council develop their own CED motion. In most other countries – South Korea was an exception – each council has been responsible for developing their own declaration text albeit with a degree of copying and pasting from earlier declaration texts, particularly in the UK and USA.

At the time of the first 20 Quebec declaration sign-ons in September 2018 there were already four CED councils in Australia and four in USA, but Quebec campaigners told us they had not heard about those. There were another 80 declarations in Montreal in November 2018, around the time of the first CED in the UK, but similarly we in Australia did not hear about any of the Quebec declarations till much later.

As of April 2021, 525 local councils, representing 83% of the population of Quebec, have signed the GMob declaration. Of those, 403 councils had already signed by the time of the Quebec state-level Climate Emergency declaration in November 2019. Quebec has thus been one of the few regions where the pattern campaigners expected has materialised: first a groundswell of climate urgency support at the local level, then a state-level CED, followed by major state-level actions such as the recent ban on new fossil fuel projects.

The power of precedents

The global spread of CEDs has been helped along by the power of precedents, with clear cross-fertilisation firstly from Australia to USA, then from USA to the UK before becoming widely visible and spreading to Europe, the rest of Canada, South America, and Asia.

It is hoped something similar will happen with bans on new fossil fuel projects, but precedents only have power if they are seen!

If you want South Australia to follow its CED with a ban on new fossil fuel projects, you could try telling your MPs about the precedents set by the ACT, Hawaii, and Quebec. If you want your local CED council to restrict fossil fuel use in new buildings, or sign on to the fossil fuel treaty, they are likely to prick up their ears if you tell them about the other CED councils that have already taken those initiatives. And please tell us all in a comment below if you know of other fossil fuel bans I’ve missed!

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

Chart showing the difference in cumulative emissions from Indigo Shire

Climate Emergency actions and target dates

Journalists and others who blithely repeat the myth that Climate Emergency Declarations (CEDs) are ‘just symbolic’ or ‘just words’ would do well to set up Google Alerts on ‘climate emergency’. I routinely see news about post-CED actions taken by local councils. These include bans on fossil fuel use in new buildings, insulation schemes for low-income homes, adoption of Climate Emergency Action Plans and carbon neutrality targets, allocation of budget for climate strategies, rewilding and tree planting, tackling waste, renewable electricity projects, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, climate events and drop-in centres, and so on. You can see plenty of examples on cedamia’s Council post-CED actions page.

Some examples receiving media coverage in just the last two days include a new repair cafe supported by Godalming Town Council in the UK and, from the Abingdon Town Council website, a Climate Conversations event. Incidentally, Item 1 of council’s ‘Key Objectives’ listed on the Abingdon website homepage is:

1. To respond effectively and speedily to the climate emergency.

Town and Parish councils are the lowest tier of local government in the UK and have very limited powers and responsibilities compared with Australian councils and mid-tier UK councils. My impression though is what they lack in scope they make up for with effective community engagement – possibly the main game given the need for everyone to tackle the Climate Emergency.

Emissions reductions achieved by Indigo Shire Council

Also just yesterday, and on a different scale and the other side of the globe (Australia), this Council Magazine article reported the outcomes at Indigo Shire Council resulting from the first year of their participation in the Victorian Electricity Collaboration (VECO) scheme. Under that scheme, 46 local councils collaborated to secure a power purchase agreement to buy all their electricity from two Victorian wind farms. 26 of those councils, including Indigo Shire, have declared a Climate Emergency and Indigo Shire has set a target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

Participation in the VECO scheme has reduced Indigo Shire Council’s emissions from their own operations by 1,100 t CO2-e over the last year.

EMissions reductions achieved by Indigo Shire Council

The biggest reduction has been in their Scope 2 emissions, which includes the indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity.

To put that 2021/22 total emissions figure of 19 t CO2-e in perspective, the average per capita emissions per year in Australia in 2020 was 19.9 t CO2-e. Simply by buying 100% renewable electricity, Indigo Council’s own operations now have slightly less negative climate impact than the everyday living of one ‘average’ Australian. (The per capita figure for the UK is 7.3, and much of Europe has similar relatively low figures.)

What difference will achieving local emissions reduction target dates make?

It’s not completely clear from the Indigo Shire website whether its 2035 net-zero target applies to the entire community rather than just to council operations. Assuming it does, and if the target is achieved, this will result in the 16,490 people living in the Shire producing a total of 2,625,208 t CO2-e between 2020 and 2035 and net-zero after that. If instead the community only reaches net-zero by 2050 in line with the national Australian target, they would produce 5,086,341 t CO2-e by 2050.

Chart showing the difference in cumulative emissions from Indigo Shire

Of the 112 CED councils in Australia, 50 have announced clear community-wide carbon neutral or net-zero target dates ranging from 2025 to 2050.

Chart showing the GHG emissions to 2050 from council areas with earlier target dates
The emissions column shows t CO2-e between 2020 and 2050 assuming net-zero is reached by the targeted year

If all 39 of the councils with target dates earlier than 2050 achieve those goals, they will emit 702,033,215 t CO2-e before reaching net-zero. If instead those communities only reach net-zero by 2050 in line with the national Australian target, they would produce almost twice as much: 1,348,951,171 t CO2-e by 2050.

Chart showing cumulative emissions from CED council areas in Australia with earlier targets

Setting ‘as soon as possible’ as a carbon neutral or net-zero target date

Some local councils in the UK and USA have simply set ‘asap’ as their community-wide target. Is this a cop-out, or is it the only serious target to set?

The above charts show the significant benefit from setting target dates earlier than 2050, but climate impacts are already dangerous. Every tonne of emissions between now and reaching net-zero will only make things worse. Even achieving a 2025 or 2030 community-wide target will do that.

From that grim perspective, a seriously implemented ‘as soon as possible’ target, based on thinking that every tonne of avoided emissions will make future climate impacts a little less bad, seems like a logical choice.

It’s tricky! Setting ‘asap’ might leave a lot of wiggle room. Some people might think it means tomorrow and some might think anything earlier than 2050 is not possible. Setting a specific date makes a council’s ambition less ambiguous, but the down side is that it suggests the adopted date is sufficient to achieve a safe climate…and that we don’t necessarily need to act just yet.

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

map showing the 114 Climate Emergency Declarations in Australia before August 2022

Climate Emergency: declarations and/or actions?

Last week saw two new Climate Emergency Declarations (CEDs) in Australia, taking the total to 114, along with some interesting twists and turns. Liverpool City Council in NSW and Derwent Valley Council in Tasmania both passed CED motions, and Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted a new 10-year Climate Action Plan but postponed a decision on declaring a Climate Emergency.

The Liverpool CED is the first example I’ve seen of a council developing their climate action plan as a precursor to passing a Climate Emergency motion. However, in April this year Nillumbik Shire Council also took an atypical step by declaring a Climate Emergency and simultaneously adopting their Climate Action Plan 2022-2032.

Item 2 of the Liverpool motion explicitly “Acknowledges the progress made in developing and adopting a Climate Change Policy and Action Plan”. The preamble to their motion provides a clear hint of a reason for doing so:

Some have called declarations of climate emergencies as largely symbolic or tokenistic, that don’t entail substantial or systematic changes.

Claims that CEDs are ‘just words’ are so ubiquitous that it is easy to imagine a council wanting to avoid such criticism. But is it a valid criticism? Where is the evidence? Have CED critics bothered to look at the track records of CED councils to see what they have done, or do they just assume that claim is true because such a large number of media articles say so?

Which should come first – climate emergency declarations or action plans?

The vast majority of CED councils globally have declared a Climate Emergency first. Many (but not all) of the CED motions have included a commitment to develop and implement a Climate Emergency Action Plan.

The Derwent Valley CED motion follows that typical pattern. Part of Item C commits to:

Engage with our community, staff, climate experts, and other stakeholders to develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan in line with the review of the Council’s Strategic Plan

The discussion points included in the minutes identify many advantages of declaring a Climate Emergency, but one that relates specifically to the timing of a declaration states:

Declaring a climate emergency would provide a clear mandate for the council to embed climate emergency response in our operations and put climate emergency response as the top priority for all strategy and policy reviews.

In contrast, Eurobodalla Shire’s approach appears to be to wait on a mandate from their community, firstly to develop the action plan they’ve just adopted, then to potentially declare a Climate Emergency sometime in the future.

The declaration first scenario reflects the notion that a local council has a responsibility to take a leadership role in an emergency: firstly to announce that there is an emergency, and then to say what they are doing and what the local community can do to tackle the emergency. That makes sense to me, but on the other hand, a key challenge for society-wide change is for local councils to ‘take the community along’ with their climate emergency action. From that perspective, it will be interesting to see if the Eurobodalla approach ultimately proves to be more effective.

Fact check: Are Climate Emergency Declarations ‘just words’?

The Australia section of cedamia’s global CED data sheet shows links to 89 climate action plans (81% of CED councils). They have a wide variety of plan names, not necessarily Climate Emergency Action Plan or even Climate Action Plan and some are still at the draft stage, but almost all are climate focused action plans developed in response to passing a CED. A few plans, such as the 2025 Carbon Neutral Adelaide Plan, were adopted prior to council declaring a Climate Emergency. Even so the Adelaide plan has one of the most ambitious community-wide carbon neutral target dates.

Pie chart showing the community-wide carbon neutral target dates of CED councils in Australia

14.3% of Australian CED local councils have set a 2030 carbon neutral target date for their entire community, 11.6% have set 2040, and 9.8% have set 2050. These dates reflect the relative difficulty for a council to affect the carbon emissions of local residents, business, and industry. However, council’s own operations generally only account for 1-2% of all the climate-damaging emissions from their local area. That makes it critical that councils find innovative ways of inspiring action within their communities and making it easier for everyone to ‘do the right thing’.

Pie chart showing the carbon neutral target dates of CED councils in Australia for their own operations

Local councils have close to complete control over their own carbon emissions and there are some notable success stories. 9.8% of Australian CED councils have already achieved carbon neutrality for their own operations. 11.6% have set a 2025 target, and 20.5% have a 2030 target.

I suppose one might argue that even action plans and targets are ‘just words’ and it is actual outcomes that count. More on specific actions taken by CED councils in future blog posts, but in the meantime you can see some of them on cedamia’s post-CED action page. Please leave a comment below if you have something to add to this story. (If reading this article via email, go to to comment.)

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

Knox City Council meeting which passed a motion to declare (not just recognise) the Climate Emergency

From recognition to declaration: Knox City Council

This is a first! Or, at least, to the best of my knowledge Knox City Council is the first jurisdiction anywhere to upgrade an earlier motion recognising the Climate Emergency in order to explicitly join the ranks of local councils that have declared a Climate Emergency.

On 27 September 2021 Knox City Council adopted a new climate response plan, and in association with that they also recognised the Climate Emergency. Then, this week at their 25 July meeting, Cr Jude Dwight successfully proposed a new motion to explicitly declare a Climate Emergency.

Mayor Susan Laukens supported the motion to reaffirm the council’s commitment to act. “It is real, it is happening and climate scientists have been warning us of extreme weather events,” she said. “We need to be advocating and show leadership in this space”.

The new motion begins:

That Council

  1. Officially and publicly declare a Climate Emergency;
  2. Reaffirms strong commitment to the Climate Emergency and climate change mitigation and adaptation, as evidenced through…

To declare or to recognise – what is the issue?

A note on cedamia’s global list of Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) jurisdictions states that:

We include a jurisdiction if their resolution text includes ‘climate emergency’ or the equivalent in the local language. The resolution can declare, note, acknowledge, recognise (or similar) a climate emergency, or it can place climate emergency in quotation marks.

Accordingly, the earlier Knox City Council was recorded in the global list at the time it occurred (but it has now been updated to reflect the change from ‘recognise’ to ‘declare’).

But what prompted this note and this policy?

Warming banner - declare a Climate Emergency

As the above banner says, the grassroots Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) campaign which began in 2016 clearly asked all levels of government to declare a Climate Emergency. That’s what you do when you become aware of an emergency situation. You declare there is one so that everyone knows to take action if they want to remain safe.

In practice, particularly at first, many jurisdictions used words other than ‘declare’. Apparently they were concerned about unintended legal implications of declaring an emergency. (Even so, in general usage, all Climate Emergency resolutions tend to be reported as being ‘declarations’ regardless of the word actually used.)

Climate Emergency declarations in Australia

The first five CED councils in Australia either recognised, endorsed, or acknowledged the Climate Emergency. From 2020 onwards the vast majority used ‘declare’ in their CED motions but overall only half have done so. Incidentally, in Europe Climate and Ecological Emergency or Climate and Biodiversity Emergency declarations are quite common, but in Australia there have only been two of each, and one more that ‘recognised’ the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.

Chart showing words used in Climate Emergency Declarations in Australia

Declarations in other countries

The first CED in the UK by Bristol City Council in November 2018 adopted a different solution. They declared a ‘climate emergency’, using quotation marks to signal that this was a new concept rather than necessarily having any sort of legal implications. During 2019 many other UK local councils copied that precedent, but these days new UK declarations usually don’t.

A few of the declarations in Canada and USA have used ‘recognise’ or similar, but the majority have simply used ‘declare’, as do all the CEDs in New Zealand and Japan.

Over the last couple of years there have been occasional cases of declarations in Australia and elsewhere that explicitly state that they should not be interpreted as having any particular legal implications. This seems like a practical way of circumventing debate on whether or not there are any legal issues to complicate declaring a Climate Emergency. For example, the Greater Wellington Council CED motion includes a clause saying, “Notes that the Climate Emergency declaration is made without explicit statutory authority or support.”

So…do CEDs have legal implications?

To be honest, I don’t think they do, but I’m not a lawyer. The campaign to declare a Climate Emergency is a bottom-up grassroots campaign. If CEDs were a top-down initiative there would be legislation saying what a CED is and setting regulations about them, but it isn’t. It came as a complete surprise to CED campaigners that the word ‘declare’ was considered a stumbling block considering that the entire CED concept was new and had no official standing.

However, some countries have legislation concerning other types of emergency declarations and the sorts of temporary powers and obligations that apply during those emergencies. It is understandable therefore that council legal teams wanted to take a cautious approach, at least at first.

All except two of the 20 most recent CEDs in Australia have used ‘declare’, and UK councils no longer bother using quotation marks. Has it now been established that such caution regarding potential legal implications is unnecessary? If you can answer this, please let us know!

In the meantime, I’m not sure if Knox City Council was concerned about legal implications when they used ‘recognise’ in their first CED, or perhaps they were influenced by the precedents set by some other Australian CEDs. Either way, it’s great to see them explicitly declare a Climate Emergency now. It really does sound much stronger.

Global map showing 2,248 Climate Emergency Declaration places - July 2022

Are Climate Emergency Declarations still happening?

Yes! New declarations might not be receiving a lot of media coverage these days but there are now 2,248 jurisdictions that have passed a Climate Emergency Declaration (CED). In just the last fortnight there have been two more CEDs in the UK (North Yorkshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council) and one more in Japan (Hiroshima City).

Certainly the rate of new declarations has slowed since the start of the pandemic, but even the CEDs that are happening now seem to get less media coverage than during the 2019 peak. The ground-breaking declaration by the first Australian state, South Australia on 31 May 2022, received little media coverage, and the April declaration by Nillumbik Shire Council in Victoria received none.

Chart showing the 2019 peak in rate of new Climate Emergency Declarations

In April 2020 there was just one new CED in the US and one in Italy. That suggests that the pandemic that was escalating at the time was a factor slowing the rate of new declarations. But it wasn’t the only factor. The dark purple bars in the chart above show the UK CEDs, a massive 506 before April 2020. Of those, 265 were mid-tier councils in England, of which there are only 333 in total. By 2020 there weren’t enough non-CED mid-tier councils left for such a high rate of new CEDs to be possible. Even so, their numbers did continue to rise. Currently 278 (83.5%) mid-tier councils of varying political persuasions have passed declarations.

Graph showing political control at CED mid-tier councils in the UK

The earliest Climate Emergency Declarations in the UK were by Labour-controlled councils. The first by a Conservative-controlled council was by Devon County Council in February 2019, but thereafter the growth trajectory has been similar across all types of UK councils. For context, at 2020 approximately 41% of the mid-tier councils where any particular party had control were under Conservative control, 33% were Labour-controlled, 14% Liberal Democrat, and Independents were in control at 12%.

National and sub-national CEDs

The following chart suggests national and subnational governments were focusing on the pandemic rather than climate during much of 2020.

Graph showing the increase in national and subnational Climate Emergency Declarations

By February 2020 there were 11 national CEDs, and 32 CEDs by subnational governments such as states, provinces, cantons, or prefectures. The Republic of Ireland was the first national declaration in May 2019, followed by Canada, Argentina, Spain, Austria, France, Malta, Bangladesh, Italy, Andorra, and the Maldives. The graph then flat-lined during mid 2020 before starting a slower but steady rise, reaching 18 nations with the declarations by South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Fiji and, most recently, Peru and Vanuatu this year.

The subnational graph also went flat for much of 2020 before resuming a steady but slower rise. To date there have been 41 CEDs passed by subnational governments, including the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Others include Gibraltar, the Australian Capital Territory, Quebec, 7 cantons in Switzerland, 7 regions of Italy, 6 prefectures in Japan, and the state governments of Hawaii and South Australia.

Is language also a factor?

Language is a third possible explanation for the slower rate of new CEDs over the last couple of years, or more precisely, the rate of new CEDs reported in cedamia’s global list and global maps of CED places.

Graph showing the rise in numbers of Climate Emergency Declarations in selected countries

For clarity, the above graph omits data for the UK, Quebec, and South Korea due to their relatively high numbers of declarations, and also the countries where only a few CEDs have occurred. Countries with a steady increase in CED numbers over the last couple of years are shown with thick lines: Australia, Canada (apart from Quebec), the US, and Japan. All except Japan are English-speaking countries, and language is not an issue for Japan because a colleague there reliably sends me notifications when new CEDs occur.

The only English-speaking countries with flat lines are New Zealand and Ireland. In both cases, the majority of council areas had already passed a CED prior to the pandemic, so fairly flat lines since are inevitable. But have there really been no new declarations in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Austria over the last couple of years despite significant activity earlier? Or is it that new declarations in those countries have not appeared in the English-language media articles I see via Google Alerts?

With the language issue in mind, Cedamia and ICLEI recently signed a memorandum whereby ICLEI will eventually become a multilingual reporting destination for new CEDs and we’ll share responsibility for collecting and displaying a shared set of data.

In the meantime, if you happen to know of any comprehensive lists of Climate Emergency Declaration places in countries with other languages, please get in touch!

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.

Climate Emergency banner on the Wandsworth Council homepage

UK council Climate Emergency banners

Following on from my recent hunt for Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) banners on the websites of Australian local councils who have declared a Climate Emergency, I knuckled down to search the homepage of all 543 CED local councils in the UK. Maybe there are better ways to spend a wet and wintry week, but once I reached the ‘W’ part of the alphabetical list here, I found the wonderful CED banner above just under the main header on the Wandsworth Borough Council homepage.

The Wandsworth banner takes the prize for excellent CED visibility. Any local residents visiting the website to check their bin collection dates cannot fail to see this banner stating that the council has declared a Climate Emergency. Not only that, the ‘Wandsworth together’ slogan gives a clear message that everyone can (and is expected to) help tackle the emergency, and there is a link to find out how to do that.

Local government in the UK consists of a single tier in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but in England there are three tiers: regional authorities (11), local authorities (333), and the lowest tier consisting of town and parish councils (10,475).

Middle-tier local authorities – borough, county, district, and city councils

The other standout amongst middle-tier websites is the following Climate Emergency call to action in a rotating banner near the top of the Lancaster City Council homepage.

Climate Emergency banner on Lancaster City Council homepage

In general, councils seem to include items that are currently important to them in rotating banners, but the downside of that is that a rotating Climate Emergency item might not be displayed at the time anyone who is just looking for bin collection days scrolls down the page. However, the Lancaster banner rotates fairly quickly and only has two items rotating, so it is unlikely to be missed. It might even be more eye-catching than a static image as the movement tends to attract the eye.

Such excellent CED visibility on the Lancaster website was not a surprise to me. The Deputy Leader of Lancaster City Council, Cllr Kevin Frea, is the brains behind the excellent Climate Emergency UK website, an extremely comprehensive record of UK declarations, Climate Emergency Action Plans by UK local councils, and even a council climate plan scorecard mechanism.

Middle-tier councils in the UK have quite a wide range of functions, so their websites tend to show their numerous main menu items as blocks of icons or images. It is rare for their CED to rate inclusion in these main menu blocks. In too many cases the CED information can only be found by clicking on something more generic, like ‘Environment’, but there are some good examples of giving their CED equal prominence with other main menu items. For example, in the following main menu icons on the South Cambridgeshire District Council homepage:

Menu icons on South Cambridgeshire District Council home page

Or this section of the Somerset County Council main menu:

Screenshot of Somerset County Council main menu

Or the following image panel for featured menu items on the Eastleigh Borough Council homepage:

Climate Emergency as a featured item on Eastleigh Borough Council home page

Or the following Rother District Council main menu using panels of images rather than icons:

Image panel of main menu items on Rother District Council home page

Hopefully the above examples, or these screenshots showing good CED visibility by middle-tier UK councils, will inspire local councils globally to make their CEDs equally visible.

Small town and parish councils

Town and parish councils have a quite limited range of responsibility and power, and therefore less contention for space on a council’s homepage. This might explain why this is the only tier of local government where I found examples of the Climate Emergency being included in the top main menu. For example, on the Bishopsteignton Parish Council website:

Climate Emergency in Bishpsteignton top main menu

And the Chagford Parish Council website:

Climate Emergency in Chagford Parish Council top main menu

Or this link to their CED right at the top of the Dawlish Town Council homepage:

Climate Emergency Declaration link at top of Dawlish Town Council home page

And some parish and town councils give visibility to their CEDs in the body of their homepage, for example this Climate Emergency panel on the homepage of the Glastonbury Town Council website:

Climate Emergency panel on Glastonbury TOwn Council home page

More examples of good CED visibility on homepages can be seen at UK parish council homepages and at UK town council homepages.

The numbers

Of the 544 local councils in the UK with known Climate Emergency Declarations (CEDs), 65 (11.9%) have made their declaration clearly visible on the homepage of their website. While this figure is disappointingly low, it is significantly better than what was found for CED councils in Australia.

Chart showing the number of UK councils with Climate Emergency on their Home page
* The devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all also made country-level CEDs
** Almost definitely there are more town/parish councils that have passed CEDs but these are less well reported in media

The small town and parish councils have the highest percentage of CED visibility, with 38 (18.7%) featuring their CED on their homepage. None of the huge regional combined authorities do so even though 9 of the 11 regional authorities have declared a Climate Emergency.

The near misses

In addition to the above, 20 UK councils have either an eye-catching homepage rotating banner, static image panel, or popup that links to comprehensive information about their declarations, action plans, and information for engaging the local community. The only downside is the lack of the ’emergency’ word. For example, the popup announcing climate action investment (more on that in a future blog post!) below on the Telford and Wrekin Council website homepage:

Climate action investment popup on the Telford Wrekin home page

Or the following rotating climate action banner near the top of the homepage of the West Sussex County Council website:

Rotating climate action banner near top of West Sussex County Council home page

Or the following zero carbon banner on the homepage of the Gateshead Council website:

Zero carbon banner on the Gateshead Council home page

Despite not using the term ‘climate emergency’, the above are highly visible to anyone visiting those websites, and they do indicate that the councils are placing a high priority on climate action.

There are another 149 (27.4%) of the UK CED councils that also publish quite comprehensive information on their declarations and action plans, and in most cases also material designed to engage the entire community. However, website visitors will only see that information if they go out of their way to look for it. In about half of those cases website visitors can look for ‘climate’ in a long list of menu items. However, in other cases website visitors need to first click an ‘environment’, ‘sustainability’, or similar menu item, then click down through submenu layers to find links to the Climate Emergency content.

In conclusion

I don’t think my week was wasted. A large part of the point of declaring a Climate Emergency is to make the local community sit up and take notice. For that a council’s declaration needs to be clearly visible…to everyone, not just to those who are already engaged in climate action and actively seeking information on what their own local council is doing.

I’d like to think some other CED councils will be inspired by the good examples above. Please tell us all in the comments below if your council decides to add a Climate Emergency banner or something equally visible on the homepage of their website!

If you’d like to receive future cedamia blog articles about new CEDs and council post-CED actions (one or two a month) directly to your inbox, click the Follow button below and set how you prefer to receive them.