22 June 2016


|  Key messages  |  Quotes  |  Media releases  |  Media coverage  |  Hi-res photos  |


Climate emergency public statement key messages

Compiled by David Spratt – 20 June 2016

In 2010 Malcolm Turnbull said: “Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice, the like of which I have never seen…”.

Nothing has changed.

Australians understand an emergency: a situation of threat or escalating threat with severe consequences for life and property that requires urgent preventive intervention. Our climate is getting hotter and more extreme, with sea level rises already in the system set to inundate our coastlines. A hotter climate will undermine global food and water security, and challenge how and where we live and work unless we take big steps right now.

We are out of time for slow, gradualist policy. The emergency action call is increasingly being taken up by leading scientists and responsible leaders around the world as extreme events escalate.

“This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action,” says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now… It is becoming more and more urgent. Time has almost run out to get emissions down. That’s the real emergency,” says Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam University.

The future of human civilisation, and the survival of the precious ecosystems on which we depend, now hang in the balance.

We have experienced the hottest year on record in 2015, and an alarming global temperature spike of more than 1.5°C of warming in February 2016. Our Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Tasmanian forests are being destroyed by global warming.

It is clear that the current warming of just one degree Celsius is not safe and already dangerous. For example, a one-metre sea-level rise which is currently in the system would inundate 15-17% of the land area of Bangladesh, wipe out nearly 40% of the Mekong Delta, flood one-fourth of the Nile Delta and depopulate many small-island states. One degree Celsius is and will have would have devastating impacts on sea levels, food security, the polar icecaps, and extreme events unless we can reduce the current level of greenhouse gases back to a safe level. 2 degrees of warming would be very dangerous.

Climate policy is not providing a secure future for Australians. The implications of rising sea levels and drowning and failed states are underestimated. Declaring a climate emergency and initiating a society-wide mobilisation unprecedented in peacetime to make action on global warming the nation’s highest-level priority, and internationally, is now necessary.

We are out of time. In a similar manner to facing a large threat such as fire, flood and storm or military threat, we now need to “throw everything” we can at the climate problem, with emergency-scale and speed of action to decarbonise the Australian economy. This means:

• An immediate ban on new coal and gas developments, and full plan for coal closures.

• An emergency-speed transition to zero emissions including for greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, and an all-sector national energy efficiency plan.

• Find the ways to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases back to a safe level.

• Strong public leadership and honesty about the problem and the path to solving it.

Epidemiologist Professor Fiona Stanley said she is already measuring the health impacts of global warming: “We are doing too little, too late. As a society we need to step up.”

We need courage rather than procrastination from our aspiring leaders.

Climate emergency quotes

“It’s a climate emergency. The whole world is watching as global temperature records are shattered, and one of the Earth’s true natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, bleaches and dies. The climate emergency we’ve been talking about for 30 years is upon us. We really have entered the phase of now or never. Our actions now determine the world our children and grandchildren will live in. We’ll need to be strong to hold our state and federal governments to account and ensure they rise to the crisis.”
Mark Wakeham, CEO, Environment Victoria

“We have a global crisis. Pope Francis reminded us that we are on a suicide course. … This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough. Not right now. Not on climate change.”
Bernie Sanders, American senator   » Read more

“We are in an emergency, and I think that the more we can use that word the better. At the moment, to a lot of people, that seems like an extreme thing to say, but it is actually an acknowledgement of the physical reality.”
Christine Milne, former Greens senator   » Read more

“We’re being taken for fools by the political system. Politics is broken in this country. Money has stopped the real issues being addressed. The main environmental groups are also not honest about the problem. The NGOs are as much a part of the failure as anybody else.”
Ian Dunlop, former coal executive   » Read more

“Just as we have faced fire, flood, drought and military threat in the past we now need to throw everything we can at the climate crisis. We must make action on global warming the nation’s highest-level priority.”
Paul Barratt, former Secretary of the Departments of Defence, former CEO of the Business Council of Australia   » Read more

“The unprecedented rate of global warming is melting the polar ice caps, raising sea levels and undermining food and water security for many of the world’s peoples. Action has been too slow, because economics has trumped physics. Now emergency action is the only rational response.”
David Spratt, science author   » Read more

“We are in the middle of a climate emergency.”
Adam Bandt, Australian politician   » Read more

“We cannot keep heading in the same direction and then perform some miraculous handbrake turn just before we reach ‘catastrophic climate change’. Climate change is already catastrophic, and it’s going to get more catastrophic. The faster we get our act together the more we will save, but every delay in cleaning up our act, every new coalmine and every new airport, is a death sentence for something or someone.”
John Sauven   » Read more

“All of us are fully aware how wrong it is to falsely yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre. But we are also aware of how wrong it is to sit silently while a fire begins to spread.”
Richard Alley, Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University

“Imagine there is a fire in your house. What do you do? … Your senses are heightened, you are focused like a laser, and you put your entire self into your actions. You enter emergency mode.”
Margaret Klein Salamon, Founding director of The Climate Mobilization   » Read more

“Its like watching a train wreck in slow motion, where the passengers just want to party on in sheer oblivion. Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are studiously avoiding acknowledging the elephant in the room. Today its the Reef and floods, tomorrow it could be the loss of large swathes of mid-ocean phytoplankton, and with it any hope of self regulation of escalating CO2 by the planet.”
Len Botterill   » Read more

“This is not a left or right wing political issue. This is an existential issue. If we don’t get it right, we all have a very big problem. What we need is a Government of National Unity.”
Ian Dunlop, former coal executive   » Read more

“Today we must say that promoting gradual solutions to a climate crisis gone critical is a form of silence that will lead to global catastrophe. For the world to take the climate emergency seriously, we in the climate movement ourselves have to do that. We must loudly speak the truth of the critical climate emergency we are facing and the World War II-scale mobilization needed to address it.”
Patrick Mazza, co-founder and former research director of Climate Solutions, Delta 5 activist, author of Cascadia Planet   » Read more

» More statements and quotes

Media releases

29 December 2016:

Whiting Beach prepares for climate kayaker’s arrival

Steve Posselt, kayak adventurer, ecowarrior and Grafton Primary and High Schools old boy, arrives at Whiting Beach, Yamba, 5.00pm Monday 2 January on the last leg of his Connecting Climate Chaos journey that has taken him around the world.

On New Years Day 2017 he will bring out ‘Old Yella’ for the last time when he sets off from Ballina to collect 100,000 signatures for the Climate Emergency Declaration petition.

His journey is 1,200 kilometres down the coast to Moruya and then 180 kilometres dragging the kayak up the mountains to Canberra.

Posselt said that paddling into New York past the Statue of Liberty, paddling past Big Ben in London, and paddling to the steps at the Eiffel Tower in Paris were the emotional highs on his journey but that nothing beats paddling in his own country.

There are around a dozen events organised at cities and towns on the way, including Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Sydney, and finally Canberra.

The petition Posselt will deliver to Canberra asks Parliament to declare a climate emergency and mobilise resources to restore a safe climate. It can be signed at www.climateemergencydeclaration.org/sign


Steve Posselt
Main contact when Steve is paddling: Lyn Thomson
Petition comment: Margaret Hender


» Steve’s website: www.kayak4earth.com

» Info page: www.climateemergencydeclaration.org/kayak

» Hi res images: www.climateemergencydeclaration.org/media/#hiresphotos or contact Steve

» Sign the petition: www.climateemergencydeclaration.org/sign


Ian Dunlop, former chair, Australian Coal Association:
“Given the latest evidence, it is almost impossible to now keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C or even 2°C with the current approaches. We have left it too late to solve the climate dilemma with a graduated response; emergency action, akin to placing economies on a war footing, remains essential.”

Steve Posselt, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Engineers:
“If everything promised at Paris is delivered, the planet will likely see global warming exceed a three degree rise above pre-industrial temperatures. Three degrees means no Arctic or Antarctic ice, no glaciers, and very likely no humans.”
Philip Sutton, co-author of Climate Code Red:
“In World War 2, faced with an extreme threat, countries mobilised their economies for action in years not decades. Now, faced with the accelerating catastrophic impacts of climate change we need to act equally decisively and at the same huge scale – to deliver ‘victory’, that is the restoration of a safe climate. The Climate Emergency Declaration petition is putting this approach on the agenda for the community and governments.”
Margaret Hender, one of the organisers of the petition:
“The Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation petition is a tangible expression of the growing public demand for an effective full-scale response to the climate reality.”

steve-mediarelease1-cover250px» Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation Campaign’s media release on Friday 4 November 2016:
Paris Not Far Enough – Even in a Kayak

» Victorian Climate Action Network’s media release on Thursday 23 June 2016:
Scientists, business leaders and prominent Australians say climate is already too hot, call for emergency action

Media coverage

Port News 2Port Macquarie News

“He’s a former Port Macquarie resident who is completing the final leg of an epic around the world kayak adventure.

And it’s all in the name of climate change.

During his adventure Steve Posselt has battled…”

» Port Macquarie News – 13 January 2017:
Former Port Macquarie man Steve Posselt paddling to Canberra | video

Camden CourierCamden Haven Courier

“Kayak adventurer and ecowarrior, ​Steve Posselt, has set off on the last leg of his Connecting Climate Chaos journey that has taken him around the world.

On New Years Day 2017 he brought out his kayak ‘Old Yella’ for the last time and set off from Ballina to collect 100,000 signatures for the Climate Emergency Declaration petition.”

» Camden Haven Courier – 10 January 2017:
Ecowarrior Steve Posselt paddles into Port Macquarie

Triple M2Triple M 106.3

“A Ballina man kayaking 1200km down the New South Wales Coast to Canberra to raise awareness for climate change arrived in Port Macquarie this morning.”

» Triple M 106.3 – 13 January 2017:
Climate Campaigner Paddles into Port

Port NewsPort Macquarie News

“Kayak adventurer and ecowarrior, ​Steve Posselt, has set off on the last leg of his Connecting Climate Chaos journey that has taken him around the world.

On New Years Day 2017 he brought out his kayak ‘Old Yella’ for the last time and…”

» Port Macquarie News – 9 January 2017:
Ecowarrior Steve Posselt paddles into Port Macquarie

Coffs AdvocateCoffs Coast Advocate

“CLIMATE change was the topic of discussion as kayaker Steve Posselt paddled into Coffs Harbour on his Climate Emergency Campaign last weekend.

Coffs Harbour welcomed the kayaker…”

» Coffs Coast Advocate – 10 January 2017:
Kayaking for the environment

nbn-coffsNBN News

“2016 was a year of damaging storms, droughts, heat waves and catastrophic coral bleaching.

One adventure activist is on a kayaking mission, determined to make the Federal Government take climate change seriously.”

» NBN News – 7 January 2017:
Man on a Mission

south-coast-registerSouth Coast Register

“He’s battling southerly winds and dodgy knees but Steve Posselt is on a mission to raise awareness of climate change.

The kayak adventurer set off from Ballina on New Year’s Day and will stop in Nowra during his eight week journey to Canberra…”

» South Coast Register – 4 January 2017:
Climate change powers Steve’s journey to collect 100,000 signatures

examinerDaily Examiner

“DRIVING rain and a thunderstorm at his back had little effect on Steve Posselt’s kayak into Yamba’s Whiting Beach on Monday.

The 64-year-old climate change activist had already been surrounded by water for two days, with many more to come….”

» Daily Examiner – 3 January 2017:
Paddle powering on way to Canberra

echonet-angelsEcho NetDaily

“Guardian Angel Anne Thompson waved off kayaker and environmental activist Steve Posselt from Ballina on New Years Day on the final leg of his Connecting Climate Chaos trip around the world….”

» Echo NetDaily – 4 January 2017:
Angelic Sendoff for Climate Paddler

nbn-news-250NBN News

“A Lismore eco-warrior has had an impressive send off in Ballina today, as he heads off on a mammoth kayak journey.”

» NBN News – 3 January 2017:
Eco-Paddler Heads to Parliament

thedailyexaminer-articl250The Daily Examiner

“A former Grafton High School student has learned a thing or two about the effects of climate change and he will take to the water in his canoe “Old Yella” to spread the word. He expects to arrive in Yamba at about 5pm on Monday after setting out from Ballina on New Years Day on the last leg of his Connecting Climate Chaos journey that has taken him around the world…”

» The Daily Examiner – 31 December 2016:
Paddler on journey to raise climate change awareness

coffs-advocate-article250Coffs Coast Advocate

“Coffs Harbour will be paid a visit by legendary Kayaker Steve Posselt next week. On a mission to deliver a national petition calling for the declaration of a climate emergency, Steve will travel from Ballina to Canberra….”

» Coffs Coast Advocate – 29 December 2016:
On a mission for Climate change

echo-article-250Echo Netdaily

“‘If we do everything we committed to in Paris we are dead meat,’ said local Ballina climate warrior Steve Posselt. This is the reason Steve is bringing his kayak, Old Yella, out for one last trip – because current commitments to reduce greenhouse gasses are just not enough…”

» Echo Netdaily – 20 December 2016:
Climate change – time to fix it

The Fifth Estate

“The effects of climate change are clear and growing. Now a group of concerned scientists and activists are calling on the government to declare a state of “climate emergency”, and have even drafted legislation to illustrate what such a move could look like.”

» The Fifth Estate – 2 August 2016:
Why so many serious people are backing a declaration of climate emergency


“Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham was one of the letter’s signatories, who said climate change would devastate rural and regional communities unless political leaders take action.”

» ABC News – 23 June 2016:
Political leaders urged to take action on climate change and prevent devastation to regional economies

» ABC News – 22 June 2016:
Election 2016: Prominent Australians join open letter calling for strong action on climate change


“In an emergency, which I really do believe we’re in when it comes to the climate, everything changes. In an emergency you all jump in and do whatever you can – nobody really cares if it’s an equitable distribution of effort. Those who can do a lot do a lot, those who can do a little do a little – you just get on with it.”
Margaret Hender

» CityMag – 10 June 2016:
CORENA: A community solution to a global problem

Radio coverage


» Radio Adelaide – 11 December 2016:
The climate emergency, a man and his kayak

» Podcast audio file (mp3, 11 min)


» The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse – 2 November 2016:
Climate emergency kayak odyssey: Steve Posselt

» Podcast audio file (mp3, 3 min)

The Sustainable Hour

Interview with Christine Milne: ‘Depoliticise the climate emergency’

“We are in an emergency, and I think that the more we can use that word the better. At the moment, to a lot of people, that seems like an extreme thing to say, but it is actually an acknowledgement of the physical reality,” said former Senator Christine Milne when she was interviewed live on air.

» The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse – 15 June 2016:
Push for solutions and steps to improve the atmosphere

Blogs and social media

Citizen Journalism

“The issue being raised is a fundamental one which affects us all and future generations, yet political silence reigned. The letter comes near the end of the second last week in the Federal election campaign.”
John Englart

» Citizen Journalism – 24 June 2016:
Eminent Australians #ClimateEmergency call met with political silence in #Ausvotes: @takvera reports

High resolution photos

Right-click on photo to download high resolution version of it:
(Mac: hold CTRL-key down and click on photo)

Kayaking to Canberra

    leaving Spooky Beach Angourie, Jan 5, 2017

    leaving Spooky Beach Angourie, Jan 5, 2017

Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

    Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

    Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

    Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

    Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

    Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017

  Steve Posselt at Seine River.
  21 cm width x 14 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt in Paris.
  16 cm width x 10 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt at Mississippi River
  21 cm width x 12 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt at English Channel near Dover
  28 cm width x 12 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt at Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  21 cm width x 31 cm height in 300 dpi

  10 cm width x 14 cm height in 300 dpi

  Launching in France
  30 cm width x 14 cm height in 300 dpi

  Statue of Liberty, USA
  46 cm width x 30 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt walks in Paris
  21 cm width x 31 cm height in 300 dpi

  Steve Posselt at the Seine River in France
  20 cm width x 16 cm height in 300 dpi


  Departure from Ballina on 1 January 2017
  11 cm width x 6 cm height in 200 dpi

climate angels

  Departure on 1 Jan 2017 – Climate Angels
  30 cm width x 18 cm height in 200 dpi

The climate emergency declaration petition

Adam Bandt signs the Climate Emergency Declaration petition   » High resolution


More than 20 prominent Australians called for emergency-scale action on climate change in an open letter to the new parliament, published in The Age on 23 June 2016.

» Download the advertisement as PDF-document or JPG-image (1192 x 849 pixel)

The reef picture used for the Open Letter in The Age shows coral bleaching at Lizard Island. Photo courtesy of XL Catlin Seaview Survey. The image comes from www.globalcoralbleaching.org



» globalcoralbleaching.org has a great range of reef photos, which are free for use.

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