Germany: First city in the nation declares a ‘climate emergency’

The southern German city of Constance (in German language: Konstanz) with a population of 80,000 has become the first in the nation to pass a resolution declaring a climate emergency.

The resolution recognising climate change as an acute threat was passed unanimously by the city council. The resolution has several objectives, including providing a climate-neutral energy supply for buildings and a management plan for transport.

The move puts Germany on the map as the sixth country world-wide where local governments have been taking similar steps in more than 500 different cities and municipalities.



“The municipal council of the city of Konstanz has passed a resolution to declare a climate emergency with the order to work out additional measures accordingly,” tweeted the municipality on its official Twitter-account, directly from city hall, on 2 May 2019.

“Although it has been acknowledged that the term emergency was not used in the traditional legal sense [of “state of emergency”], council members found it important to acknowledge the acute threat posed by climate change, ‘and to make stemming the climate crisis and its grave consequences a top priority’,” wrote DW and Spiegel.


Push from school strikers
The resolution was urged by a local #FridaysForFuture group, part of the school striking movement which was founded by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.

Representatives from the group met with Constance’s mayor Uli Burchardt in February 2019 to discuss possible motions.

“The announcement of the climate emergency by the Constance municipal council is an important sign for all of Germany,” a member of the #FridaysForFuture group told Spiegel.

The #FridaysforFuture group said that the city had committed to providing annual reports of its progress on reducing carbon emissions. They are hopeful that other cities in Germany will copy the example set by Konstanz, stating that the city council’s “climate emergency declaration is an important signal for the whole of Germany.”

In other cities and regions of Germany, similar requests have been raised. For example by Climate Alliance Hamm, calling for de declaration of a climate emergency in North Rhine-Westphalia, and in Kiel, similar efforts are being made.

Germany’s Environment Ministry spokesman Stephan Gabriel Haufe commented that “It’s a kind of cry for help,” and that the move would help raise awareness about climate change.


→ DW – 2 May 2019:
Constance becomes first German city to declare ‘climate emergency’
“Council members in the German city have unanimously passed a resolution recognizing climate change as an acute threat. The move was spurred by calls from the local chapter of the Fridays for Future protest movement.”

→ Washington Post | Associated Press – 3 May 2019:
Southern German city declares ‘climate emergency’
“Aldermen in Konstanz, near the border with Switzerland, voted unanimously late Thursday to back a resolution promoting measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and transport. The city of more than 80,000 inhabitants had the driest summer since 1990 last year.”


In German language:

→ Spiegel – 2 May 2019:
Reaktion auf “Friday for Future”: Konstanz ruft als erste Stadt Deutschlands den Klimanotstand aus
“London, Los Angeles, Vancouver und jetzt Konstanz: Immer mehr Städte wollen bei ihren Entscheidungen die Auswirkungen auf das Klima mitberücksichtigen. Umwelt- und Schüleraktivisten sind begeistert.”

→ ZDF – 3 May 2019:
Konstanz ruft Klimanotstand aus (Video)
“Als erste deutsche Stadt hat Konstanz den Klimanotstand ausgerufen. Bei allen künftigen Entscheidungen sollen nun Auswirkungen auf das Klima berücksichtigt werden.”


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