2,252 jurisdictions in 39 countries have declared a climate emergency. Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to over 1 billion citizens.
Over 61 million of these live in the United Kingdom. In Britain around 93 per cent of the population lives in areas where the local authorities – over 525 councils all together – have declared a climate emergency. By 2050, the result of these declarations and consequencial response plans in the UK alone will have spared the planet’s atmosphere for approximately 2,5 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.
In January 2021, a United Nations survey with 1.2 million respondents in 50 countries, the largest survey of public opinion on climate change ever conducted, found that 64 per cent of people said that climate change was an emergency.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS COUNTING
On the list below are only included jurisdictions that have passed a binding motion declaring a climate emergency. As such, the non-binding motion instigated by UK Labour, for example, is not included in this data. Typical resolutions include setting up a process to develop an action plan and report back to council within three to six months.
18 national governments and the EU have declared a climate emergency. The EU is counted as one jurisdiction in the ‘jurisdictions total’, but has not been included in the country count.
These are the overall figures, based on population statistics available via the Internet:
In Australia, where the climate emergency declaration mobilisation and petition was launched on this website in May 2016, over 100 jurisdictions representing 9 million people – over a third of the population – have declared a climate emergency, including the government of the Australian Capital Territory, based in the capital Canberra, and South Australia’s Upper House. In the 18 May 2019 federal election, more than 100 of the candidates signed the Climate Emergency Declaration petition. On 2 December 2020, the federal government rejected a Climate Emergency Declaration Bill proposed by the Greens’ leader Adam Bandt.
NATIONAL DECLARATIONS: HISTORY
On 29 April 2019, the first parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency at the national level was the Welsh Parliament. Some say it was Scotland, though, because on 28 April 2019, the First Minister of Scotland declared a climate emergency on behalf of her government at an annual Scottish National Party conference.
On 1 May 2019, the United Kingdom Labour Party got unanimous support for a non-binding motion in favour of a climate emergency declaration in the House of Commons, claiming Britain thereby was the first country in the world where a bipartisan parliament had declared a climate emergency.
On 3 May 2019, the Gibraltar Parliament followed, and the government of the Republic of Ireland announced their declaration on 9 May. The next day, the Isle of Man parliament declared a climate emergency as well.
The Parliament of Portugal declared a climate emergency on 7 June 2019 – that is, the Assembly of the Republic passed the declaration but it still requires further approval by the Council of Ministers, which hasn’t happened. The Canadian House of Commons followed on 17 June 2019, and the French parliament a climate emergency on 27 June 2019. Argentina followed on 17 July 2019.
→ For more about the history, see Cedamia’s timeline
→ Cedamia’s World map of climate emergency declarations
→ Map of Swedish municipalities – which visualises the status of each, including those who end up voting against declaring a climate emergency.
National and supra-national government climate emergency declarations
Scotland (Scottish Government): 28 April 2019
Wales (Welsh Government): 29 April 2019
United Kingdom (House of Commons): 1 May 2019
Republic of Ireland (Parliament): 10 May 2019
Portugal (Parliament): 7 June 2019
Vatican City (Holy See): 14 June 2019
Canada (Parliament): 17 June 2019
Argentina (Senate): 17 July 2019
Spain (Congress of Deputies): 17 September 2019
Austria (National Council Lower House): 25 September 2019
France (Parliament): 26 September 2019
Malta (Parliament): 22 October 2019
Bangladesh (Parliament): 13 November 2019
European Union (Parliament – 27 member states): 28 November 2019
Italy (Chamber of Deputies): 12 December 2019
Northern Ireland (National Assembly): 2 February 2020
Spain (National Gov./Cabinet): 21 January 2020
Andorra (General Council): 23 January 2020
Northern Ireland (Assembly): 3 February 2020
Maldives (Parliament): 12 February 2020
South Korea (National Assembly): 28 September 2020
Japan (Parliament): 20 November 2020
New Zealand (Parliament): 1 December 2020
Singapore (Parliament): 1 February 2021
→ See more on www.cedamia.org/fact-sheets
This data compilation was initiated by Philip Sutton. Various lists are being updated independently, including:
→ CEDAMIA’s list in chronological order (Adelaide, Australia):
→ CACE Online’s list (Melbourne, Australia):
→ ClimateEmergency.uk’s news page (United Kingdom):
→ The Climate Mobilization’s list (USA):
City by City Campaign: The Race to Mobilize Is On
Climate emergency action – best practice Trello
How this translates into climate action? This Trello has been started in the United Kingdom to give a collaborative overview and insight into answers to that question.
We have received questions from councillors and media about what a ‘climate emergency declaration’ or motion should contain, and whether there are certain criteria or guidelines to this.
For instance, can achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 be considered an ‘emergency’ response, or should the year be set as 2040, 2030 or even as ambitious as 2025?
Our call for declaring a climate emergency is not structured movement with a specific guideline and a set of criteria as such. It is an open ‘movement of movements’, and there are many opinions floating around about what is the best strategy.
Eventually, it is up to each individual council to make up its mind about what it wants to suggest and to implement.
“At the Paris climate talks, scientists and people from low-lying island states set 1.5°C of warming as a red line that must not be crossed. However, earlier this year, the global average temperature spiked past 1.6°C of warming.
The bleaching of coral reefs around the world, increasing extreme weather events, the melting of large ice sheets and recent venting of methane from thawing permafrost make it abundantly clear that the earth is already too hot.
The future of human civilisation, and the survival of the precious ecosystems on which we depend, now hang in the balance.
There must be an immediate ban on new coal and gas developments and an emergency-speed transition to zero emissions. We must begin the enormous task of safely drawing down the excess greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
We call on the new parliament to declare a climate emergency.”
This was the climate emergency declaration petition text we wrote in 2016:
• climate impacts are already causing serious loss of life and destroying vital ecosystems
• global average temperature, atmospheric greenhouse gases, and ocean acidity are already at dangerous levels, and
• wartime economic mobilisations have proven how quickly nations can restructure their economies when facing an extreme threat
it is inexcusable to continue with climate-damaging policies that put us all in even greater peril. The Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal is not a safe goal.
We call on all Australian federal, state, and territory parliaments and all local councils to:
• declare a climate emergency
• commit to providing maximum protection for all people, economies, species, ecosystems, and civilisations, and to fully restoring a safe climate
• mobilise the required resources and take effective action at the necessary scale and speed
• transform the economy to zero emissions and make a fair contribution to drawing down the excess carbon dioxide in the air, and
• encourage all other governments around the world to take these same actions.
We’ve risen to big challenges in the past when an emergency has been declared, with citizens and all sides of politics rising to the occasion and working together for the common good.
We call on the Australian government to do what is necessary now.
TV news coverage – examples
Machynlleth Town Council, Wales, United Kingdom
Vancouver City Council, Canada [Report starts at 0:52 min in the video]
Read more and follow the emergency development on Facebook