As we enter 2019 with record-breaking temperatures, three new global climate emergency movements are making headlines: Extinction Rebellion, which started in England in 2018, the council climate emergency declaration campaign, which started in Australia in 2016 and now counts 40 councils, and the FridaysForFuture school strike movement, which Greta Thunberg started in Sweden in August 2018.
The three movements are inspiring and cross pollinating each other, supporting and working for each other, across ages and country borders, and they are achieving convincing results by doing so.
15-year-old teenagers are mobilising their communities, class mates, teachers and parents to strike from school on Fridays, while 75-year-olds are making FridaysForFuture sit-ins in front of senators’ offices. 15 March 2019 has been marked in the calendar as a special climate-strike campaign day – and preparations have started for an International Rebellion Week on 15-21 April.
The young people are finding courage and speaking up all over the world – in their schools, in media and at city council meetings – all as a result of the inspiration they have taken from the 16-year-old Swedish climate-oracle Greta Thunberg.
For instance, this passionate speech from 15-year-old Oxford resident Linnet Drury (see the video above or on Youtube) clearly made an impact on the city’s grey-haired councillors at their meeting on 28 January 2019, and shortly after, Oxford City Council unanimously backed its first-ever climate emergency motion.
» Climate Emergency Declaration – 31 January 2019:
United Kingdom: Oxford City Council unanimously backs climate emergency motion
Something similar happened in Vancouver just a few weeks before. Rebecca Hamilton, a Vancouver high school student who is part of the global #SchoolStrike4Climate movement, had helped mobilise support among local youth for their council to declare a climate emergency. She said:
“We are living in a time of climate crisis and, as teens, we struggle to reconcile that knowledge with the lack of action we see around us. We are asking our leaders to step up and start treating this crisis like the emergency it is. We are at a crossroads: we can continue failing to reduce emissions, resulting in accelerating climate catastrophe. Or, we can take dramatic action now, creating a safe future for our generation. We are demanding our leaders choose the latter path.”
» Climate Emergency Declaration – 17 January 2019:
Canada: Vancouver passes climate emergency resolution
As demonstrated in this video from Frome in the United Kingdom, local Extinction Rebellion groups have been instrumental in making the climate emergency declaration take off in the United Kingdom, where – over less than three months – more than 20 councils now have declared a climate emergency. See the list of UK councils below.
“We must do all we can to protect the basic environmental conditions that allow humanity to flourish. In this context, Extinction Rebellion’s economic and political program is on the side of reason, and well supported by academic research.”
~ Simon Mair and Julia Steinberger
» Global News Canada – 5 February 2019:
Elementary students challenge Quispamsis town council on climate change
Five Grade 5 students at the École des Pionniers Elementary School in Quispamsis, N.B., have made a pitch to town council on the issue of climate change. The students are asking the town to sign the Citizens’ Universal Declaration of Climate Emergency. They feel the time to act is now.
Populations covered by governments that have declared a climate emergency now exceed 19 million citizens in four English-speaking countries, with over 12 million of these living in the United Kingdom.
These are the overall figures, according to population statistics available via the Internet:
Total: 40 local government bodies representing 19,665,739 persons
…and counting. This figure keeps growing almost every week as more and more councils keep joining in. For instance, these two UK councils have a climate emergency motion on their agenda in the coming days:
» Yorkshire Post – 31 January 2019:
Sheffield is largest city in UK to declare ‘climate emergency’
Bryony Edwards, CACE: “Councils are breaking the silence on the climate emergency, leading central governments and NGOs around the world.”
Published on youtube.com on 22 December 2018
Grey Power supports School Strike 4 Climate
The Grey Power Climate Protectors is a new Australian group which uses “the political, financial, or social influence of older people” to protect the climate for now and future generations.
Declaring a climate emergency: city by city
This data compilation was initiated by Philip Sutton
• Ballarat City Council, Victoria: 101.686
• Byron Shire Council, New South Wales: 33.987
• Darebin City Council, (@CityofDarebin), Victoria: 158.745
• Gowler Town Council: 26,472
• Moreland City Council, Victoria: 162.558
• Town of Victoria Park, Western Australia: 34,990
• Vincent City Council, Western Australia: 35.768
• Yarra City Council, Victoria: 95,981
• Bradford District Council: 534,300
• Brighton and Hove City Council: 273,369
• Bristol City Council, (@BristolCity): 535.907
• Calderdale Borough Council, Halifax: 208,402
• Cornwall Council: 563,600
• Forest of Dean District Council: 86,000
• Frome Town Council: 26.203
• Greater London Authority: 8.174.000
• Kirklees Council: 423,000
• Lambeth Council: 324,431
• Lancaster City Council: 142,500
• Langport Town Council: 2,872
• Leicester City Council: 329,839
• Machynlleth Town Council, Wales: 2,235
• Milton Keynes Council: 229,941
• Oswestry Town Council: 17,105
• Oxford City Council: 161,300
• Powys County Council, Wales: 132,500
• Scarborough Borough Council 108,400
• Stroud District Council: 116.627
• Totnes Town Council: 8.076
• Trafford Council: 233,288
• Berkeley City Council, (@CityofBerkeley), California: 112.580
• Hayward City Council, California: 147,000
• Hoboken City Council, (@CityofHoboken), New Jersey: 55.131
• Los Angeles City Council, (@LosAngelesCity), California: 3.999.759
• Montgomery County Council, (@MontgomeryCoMD), Maryland: 971.777
• New Britain, Connecticut: 73,200 – resolution
• Oakland City Council, (@Oakland), California: 390.724
• Richmond City Council, (@RichmondCalDemo), California: 103.701
• Santa Cruz City Council, (@CityofSantaCruz), California: 62.864
• Vancouver City Council: 631,486
On its meeting on 29 January 2019, Halifax Regional Council in Nova Scotia, Canada, supported a ‘climate emergency’ motion put forward by Councillor Richard Zurawski. The motion suggests “the incorporation into the municipality’s climate targets and actions the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050.” If the climate breakdown “constitutes an emergency for Halifax Regional Council”, as the motion declares, it is not explained why then council would only be recommending this level of action. It does follow the recommendation by the UN’s IPCC report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’ from October 2018, which is a very conservative compromise suggested by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analysed more than 6,000 scientific studies. But it can not be called an ‘emergency’ response, which would be more like achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2025. For this reason, we have not included Halifax Regional Council on the list above.
» CEDAMIA’s list in chronological order:
» CACE Online’s list:
» The Climate Mobilization’s list:
City by City Campaign: The Race to Mobilize Is On
TV news coverage – examples
Machynlleth Town Council, Wales, United Kingdom
Vancouver City Council, Canada [Report starts at 0:52 min in the video]
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