The climate emergency declaration hour

On 3 July 2019 in the climate bunker, The Sustainable Hour becomes a full Climate Emergency Declaration Hour: Your hosts cover the importance and the need to immediately declare a climate emergency in our local government areas, and we listen to how it is being done around the country and around the world.

We hear how New York City Council declares a climate emergency, and how Mayor Clover Moore from Sydney City Council does it with unaminous backing from her Council.

Councillor Bill Harvey from Hobart City Council explains how – and why – he pushed for the Tasmanian capital to become the first capital city in Australia to declare a climate emergency. This interview was produced by Vivien Langford from the Beyond Zero Emissions show and is part of a longer podcast about climate emergency in Tasmania. 

We also hear statements from Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, ABC presenter Kerry O’Brien, an excerpt from a speech by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, as he introduces his new report on climate change at the 14th Plenary Meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations on 28 June 2019. “We have reached a point where the best-case outcome is widespread death and suffering by the end of this century, and the worst-case puts humanity on the brink of extinction,” he says.

Keira Knightley gives voice to a Facebook video about the climate emergency and Extinction Rebellion, and Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, gave a speech at a conference in the UK, which we play a two-minute excerpt from.

Jess Miller, a councillor from the City of Sydney, encourages protesters to keep pushing for change, even after the City of Sydney has declared a climate emergency.


What is your council doing about the climate emergency?

The first local government climate emergency was declared by Darebin City Council, a suburban council of Melbourne in Victoria, in December 2016. Since then, more than 700 other councils world-wide have joined them. This means that there now are more than 160 million people living in a declared climate emergency municipality. In Australia, 25 councils, including Sydney and Hobart, had joined.

“A rising tide of communities across the country from the ground up are having their views represented by local leaders,” commented Nic Seaton from Greenpeace in Australia.

We ask our local leaders to come up with more aggressive, more measurable, more action-oriented plans to make sure that we reduce our emissions drastically. If they don’t get it, they simply don’t deserve to be re-elected, because obviously they have not understood the danger they, along with the climate-criminal federal government, are putting us all in.

Do you know what is the stance being taken by your council? Maybe time to ask your civic leaders. Get inspiration from listening to the excellent speakers in The Sustainable Hour today, and then join the global and local movement calling for the declaration of a climate emergency.

We end the climate emergency hour with a new piece of music by Guadi, composed to bear Greta Thunberg’s first UN speech forward and outwards. 

Musicians declare a climate emergency

“In support of all the actions of Extinction Rebellion, ADF are calling all musicians, producers, climate change activists and like minded souls to get involved and spread the word about the planet’s emergency, using music as our weapon.”

We’ve burned this podcast on a CD and sent it to councillors, mayors and CEOs in Surf Coast Shire and Geelong councils. They also got it as a link to an mp3-file in an email.
We hope they will listen.

“No change comes from saying ‘Please’!”
~ Jess Miller, a councillor from the City of Sydney

Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 274 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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“We need to hold them accountable for this mess they have created, and we need to make our voices heard and get angry. And then transform that anger into action.”
~ Greta Thunberg, Swedish teenager and climate activist


Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour

New York declares a climate emergency

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Sydney declares a climate emergency

“Jess Miller, a councillor from the City of Sydney, encouraging protesters to keep going. The City of Sydney just declared a climate emergency, but for real action on the levels of state and federal government we need to be strong with the movement,” wrote Sarah Caruana, who posted this video on Facebook

Climactic wrote about the 8-minute comments from listeners, which we aired in the program:

“Sydney has declared a climate emergency. What does that mean? Not just in the fight against climate change, and to change the trajectory of Australia’s transition, but to us as people? Has it lifted our spirits, topped up our tanks, are we feeling hopeful? Hear messages from our friends and fellows in the climate community in this first Rapid Reaction episode.”

→ Listen to the podcast on

Climactic’s Mark Spencer wrote on Facebook:
‘s first Rapid Reaction episode, where we hear voices across the community about a breaking news event. This time, it’s Sydney’s Climate Emergency Declaration, which is huge news! It’s barely over ten minutes long, features some amazing people, some audio from the chamber as Lord Mayor Clover Moore declares the vote unanimous, and the vocal talents of a new friend, Mr Golden Pipes, and I love it dearly.

Thank you Michele Radinovic for wrangling this! Zelly Been for the lovely, positive capper at the end, Violet Maree CoCo and Alex of XR VICSarah CaruanaGrant WebsterKim WarnerOliver Kunz and so many more of you!

A little bird tells me this has been sent to Clover… so if the Lord Mayor hears it before you do… for shame!

We’ll be doing more of these in future in response to breaking news, so jump on Climactic’s social media in order to hear the call-out.

Media’s failure

Kerry O’Brien: Logies Hall of Face speech

→ ABC News:
Kerry O’Brien spoke out against ideologues and racism

When the former ABC current affairs veteran was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame, he gave an outstanding speech where he held both politicians and media accountable for their huge failure not to be telling the truth and not to be acting on the problem with society’s carbon emissions and the rising temperatures on the planet.

UN rapporteur publishes report with dire warnings

“Basic human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are at risk,” says a United Nations human rights expert.

“We have reached a point where the best-case outcome is widespread death and suffering by the end of this century, and the worst-case puts humanity on the brink of extinction.”
~ Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights states, and author of a report which UN Human Rights Council released in Geneva on 28 June 2019.

The report explains that climate impacts directly threaten human rights to water, food, shelter, health and life. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide face drought, water scarcity, starvation, food insecurity, displacement, disease and death. The report concludes:

“An unconscionable assault on the poor”
“The human rights community, with a few notable exceptions, has been every bit as complacent as most governments in the face of the ultimate challenge to mankind represented by climate change. The steps taken by most United Nations human rights bodies have been patently inadequate and premised on forms of incremental managerialism and proceduralism which are entirely disproportionate to the urgency and magnitude of the threat. Ticking boxes will not save humanity or the planet from impending disaster.

This report has identified a range of steps that should be taken in order to begin to rectify this failure to face up to the fact that human rights might not survive the coming upheaval. It has also sought to highlight the fact that the group that will be most negatively affected across the globe are those living in poverty.  Climate change is, among other things, an unconscionable assault on the poor.”

→ Read the 21-page report ‘Climate change and poverty’

→ United Nations web tv:
Clustered ID: Special Rapporteur on Poverty & SR on IDPs – 14th Meeting, 41st Regular Session Human Rights Council
“Mr. Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Introduction at the 14th Plenary Meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.”

→ United Nations Human Rights – 25 June 2019:
UN expert condemns failure to address impact of climate change on poverty
“Climate change will have the greatest impact on those living in poverty, but also threatens democracy and human rights, according to a UN expert.”

→ Al Jazeera – 26 June 2019:
‘Climate apartheid’: World’s poor to suffer most from disasters
“UN rights expert calls for ‘major re-engineering of economies’ to tackle effect of climate change on the global poor.”

→ Climate Liability News – 27 June 2019:
UN Human Rights Expert: Fossil Fuel Companies and Governments to Blame for ‘Full-Blown’ Climate Crisis

→ Bloomberg – 26 June 2019:
UN Human Rights Expert Warns of ‘Climate Apartheid’ Scenario

→ The Guardian – 25 June 2019:
‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive

Extinction Rebellion

“You don’t have to have hope to have courage. You just have to show up and be involved. … Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.”

~ Kate Marvel, climate scientist, in an article in On Being titled “We need courage, not hope, to face climate change”.

“This is the revolution of the heart”

– thoughts on climate emergency, leadership and how things change: “From love, courage comes forward.”

“The UN General Secretary has talked about human extinction as a possibility. What happens in a world like that is a lot of facism, sending people to wars and so on. We are heating the planet to the same extent as what happened during the Permian mass extinction event where 97 per cent of all life went. If you really breathe that in – it is a shock to really face that. There was something in the green movement that was saying, “Let’s not really look at this.” To honour people who’ve worked in the green movement many years, they WERE saying “This is an emergency”, but with this idea, “It’s best to be hopeful,” and it is “best to not shock and frighten people,” and… well, actually, let’s be as shocked as as frightened as this is, because that is when people step up. And then there is a process of shock and grief there that is not to be skipped over – that is part of the work. We know that grief opens a space of love – it is not a surprise, you pay for love – and from love, courage comes forward.”

~ Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion in the UK, interviewed by Robin Alfred


The interview titled ‘Leading in a Climate Changed World’ is also about the four C’s in creating change: Raising consciousness, building co-ordination, the confrontation stage, and the consolidation stage. It is about the use of civil disobedience in a society where the the social contract is broken because governments are not fulfilling their duty and it therefore has become a duty to rebel.

When hope dies, action begins. And then the hope comes from doing, says Extinction Rebellion

“Meanwhile, on the hottest day in the history of France, here’s shocking video of police spraying tear gas in the faces of climate activists in Paris. This happened today. Do not look away.”
~ Eric Holthaus


New music in support of Extinction Rebellion

“In support of all the actions of Extinction Rebellion, ADF are calling all musicians, producers, climate change activists and like minded souls to get involved and spread the word about the planet’s emergency, using music as our weapon.”

“We’ve composed new music behind Greta Thunberg’s U.N. speech in support of Extinction Rebellion and the urgent struggle for Climate Justice. Recently she has been the subject of a lot of fawning patronisation by the chattering classes as well as some vicious, often personal attacks from the usual right-wing stooges. We hope that the tone of this track helps to maintain the core of her message in all its uncompromising clarity and militancy. Words and music together can be a powerful weapon in the fight to save our planet; let’s use them.”

Voice and text by Greta Thunberg, music by Gaudi

A real solution

The devastation will be something that we have never seen before. It’s clear from some of the senior folks in the Democratic Party apparatus and even just in the environmental movement that they are not ready to take on this challenge at the speed, at the scale, to do everything that they can to prevent this crisis.

A large part of it is to tell people where to go, where we’re heading, on what timeline, and how.

Give us a habitable planet.

A better economy.

A real solution.

Not just doing something. Do THE thing that we need.

~ Rhiana Gunn-Wright

→ Washington Post – 3 July 2019:
Moody’s Analytics says climate change could cost $69 trillion by 2100

→ Moody’s Analytics
The Economic Implications of Climate Change
“Climate change will create many losers, but also some winners.”

30 June 2019:

‘Revolutionise the world’: UN chief calls for youth to lead on climate

“You need to make as much noise as possible, you need to organise as strongly as possible. You need to push for more because let’s be clear, with the present level of engagement and of international commitments to address these problems we will not solve the challenges we face.”

Use social media and political organising to ‘force’ older generation to confront climate crisis, says António Guterres

→ UK: The Chase School in Malvern has declared its own climate emergency

“The Chase School is a school of excellence – and that should apply to all areas.”

Greenpeace wrote:
“Earlier this week, the City of Sydney became the latest jurisdiction to officially acknowledge the truth of our climate crisis and declare a climate emergency. ✊ The City of Sydney is the 24th local government or territory in Australia – and one of more than 600 globally – to make the step. It proves that change is coming. And it’s coming from the ground up.” 

“The Morrison government is like a negligent landlord telling tenants to ignore the smell of smoke and the sound of sirens and go back to their flats.

No government ever has a mandate to jeopardise the future of our country. Yet for as long as it fails to take action proportionate to the climate emergency, the Morrison government is wantonly risking the life of the nation and contributing to the disasters that are already hurting thousands of Australian families. According to the federal government’s quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory released earlier this month, Australia’s emissions are continuing to rise.

Just last week in Canberra, Natural Disaster Response Minister David Littleproud admitted that climate change causes natural disasters, but said he still supports the opening of new coal mines – even though coal is the number one driver of climate change in Australia.”
~ David Ritter, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, adjunct professor in the Sydney Democracy Network at Sydney University.

Kate Ahmad from Greenwich, NSW, wrote:
“Your signature is making climate history. You’re part of a hopeful step forward for the movement to declare a climate emergency in Australia. Yesterday, my heart soared as I stood beside Lord Mayor Clover Moore as City of Sydney declared a climate emergency.

When I started my petition to Scott Morrison, I was in despair. But over 113,000 people have since joined my call to declare a climate emergency. Dozens of people are growing the movement from the ground up by demanding their local council act.

One of those incredible people was Nic Seton from Sydney, who brought together over 3,000 locals to push this movement forward in one of our major cities.

This historic win is just the start – in the last few weeks, we’ve seen Hobart declare a climate emergency. And now the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly supported a motion to demand the federal government to declare a climate emergency.

All this news makes it a critical, hopeful moment to build pressure on every level of government – can you share this petition one more time?”

>>> Share the petition now <<<

“And if you haven’t already, find and sign the petition to your local council – or start a pre-filled petition to grow this movement further in your own backyard.

Thank you for all that you’ve done so far, and showing what we can achieve when we work together.”

→ Source:

How the climate emergency declaration wave started

It’s important to remember how it came about that Darebin City Council as the first municipality in the world declared a climate emergency. It didn’t happen just by coincidence. It happened only because there was a council election, and a complete shift of councillors. As it turned out, seven of the nine councilors who were elected, had signed the Climate Emergency Declaration petition.
In other words: it was the petition that made this happen.

Something similar can happen at other levels of government. Election time is the time to act and get petitions running and signed by candidates!

For those who didn’t follow the development in 2016, you can listen to the first seconds of this 13-minute soundfile where Councillor Trent McCarthy from Darebin explains how it all started.

Now what?

‘So you’ve declared a Climate Emergency, now what?’ was an event that took place in May 2019 at Exeter University.

“The environmental challenges the world faces require leadership, investment, organisational and structural transformation and human behaviour change on a scale we’ve never seen before. (…) The questions and the conversation went in many different directions, but it was all engaging and fascinating. While nothing concrete came out of it, it was a vital space to think differently, to contemplate with others the kind of world a climate emergency could lead to if we are sufficiently brave, imaginative and brilliant.”
~ Professor Mark Goodwin, Vice Chancellor, Exeter University

Tools for cities

Tackling the climate emergency: tools for cities

In the United Kingdom, Ashden have launched a Climate Action Co-benefits Toolkit to help local and combined authorities to radically cut carbon emissions while delivering wider benefits.

→ Read more:

Ashden launched this at an event together with the Grantham Institute who have published a briefing paper on the co-benefits of climate action.

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Hobart’s climate emergency declaration

Hobart Council was the first capital city council to declare a climate emergency. On the day of the council meeting, Extinction Rebellion was there, dressed in long red velvet gowns and deathly white faces. In this one-hour podcast from Hobart, Vivien Langford introduces you to the people who are taking climate action to a whole new level. Participants:

Bill Harvey – Hobart City Coumcil
Tom Remenyi – Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre,
David Hamilton – Climate Tasmania

Speech by Greta Thunberg – at the Austrian World Summit of leaders implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.
Music by Tiny Tim

Team: Vivien Langford: Interviews, and Andy Britt: Production

Beyond Zero Emissions Community – Latest episodes

1 July 2019: Tasmania
Web page | Audio file

24 June 2019: All About Adani
Web page | Audio file

17 June 2019: Smart Energy Show
Web page | Audio file

10 June 2019: Radiothon
With Giles Parkinson, Christine Milne, Anna Rose, Lyn Bender, Dr Forbes Mc Gain, Professor Justin Borevitz, John Shiel, Jolyon Bromley, Nic Clyde, and Vanessa Petrie
Web page | Audio file


In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about

European satellite agency concludes that June was the hottest month ever recorded on earth, our planet.


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Wind and solar cheaper than coal and gas

The all-in costs of electricity from wind and solar power have dropped by 49% and 85% since 2010. They’re now cheaper than power from a new coal or gas-fired plant across two-thirds of the world  via @bopinion

Scottish renewable electricity hits record levels

Scottish renewable electricity generation reached record levels in the country’s first quarter, with enough electricity being generated to power approximately 88 per cent of the country’s households for a year.

Net zero becomes law in United Kingdom

The UK was the first country to use fossil fuels on an industrial scale and is now ending their use and putting clean, green growth at the heart of its modern industrial strategy

#StoryChange and value change

“Gross national happiness helps make Bhutan carbon negative. It is time for your government to turn its back on gross national product? This would surely be something for your #CitizensAssembly to ponder,” tweeted Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom.

If you haven’t noticed the global #StoryChange which is emerging, just take a look at this headline and subtitle of a Danish newspaper article. To see a newspaper write like this… well, I find it touching. It is the kind of spirit we need to see rise in responsible newspapers and governments around the planet. It is going to happen in Australia as well – only that countries like Australia and Canada that have fossil fuels in the ground will be the laggards as long as the industry is allowed to pull its strings of influence inside the governments.

The Danish newspaper DAGBLADET INFORMATION wrote:

“The green majority [government, formed this week] will make Denmark a role model country of climate action. Now we all have to give a hand”

“The agreement between the Social Democrats and its three green support parties is historic in terms of the commitment to a radical green transition. The climate threat makes it a fixed assignment – it can only succeed if business, science research and citizens jointly turn it into a national consensus project”

Change way of life
Currently an impossible thought in Australia: that we’d have a prime minister who said, “Australia must change way of life to achieve climate targets.”

But the fact that this is what is actually happening in northern Europe – not just in your dreams! – is a sign of what is coming. One day, hopefully not too far away, you will be hearing the same kind of message coming from your country’s prime minister, as it came from the Danish prime minister.

Denmark had a “climate election” recently, where the Danish voters gave the new government a clear mandate to take bolder action on the climate emergency. So one of the government’s first decisions was to legislate a 70 per cent emissions reduction from the 1990-level over the next ten years.

. . .

National Tree Day
Australia’s largest tree planting and nature care event. Communities around the country have pledged to get their hands dirty as we strive to see one million trees planted this year. ​Trees have an amazing capacity to regulate our environment by filtering the air we breathe, sequestering carbon while producing oxygen, stabilising soil and providing food and shelter for wildlife. ​Join us to celebrate trees this National Tree Day! A small action by one can add up to a big change if done by many.


“The world is literately boiling and we have ignorant men trying to accelerate our demise.” 
~ Dr Rhonda Garad

Subsidies tripled

“G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies they give to coal-fired power plants in recent years” The UK still gives billions to build plants overseas. Declarations of #ClimateEmergency are not enough, politics needs to act like it means it.
~ Extinction Rebellion Bristol

→ Climate Home News – 24 June 2019:
Four countries have declared climate emergencies, yet give billions to fossil fuels
“The UK, France, Canada and Ireland have all formally recognised a climate crisis. But analysis shows they give $27.5bn annually in support for coal, oil and gas.”

Conservatives and coal
“Climate change debate is only perceived as a “lefty” issue in Australia.  Even the most conservative governments in the world are managing the risks associated with ensuring their economies are well set up to change.  Margaret Thatcher was one of the first world leaders to recognise the need to address the negative impact of coal on the environment as well as the way that made the UK economy extremely vulnerable.   She worked to transform the UK economy and now they no longer need it as part of their energy mix. 

A common misconception was that she closed mines – this is incorrect she simply turned off the subsidies tap and redirected the money into assets that brought economic growth while providing better environmental outcomes.  Maybe we need to look at the subsidies to mining and whether we are getting value for money?”

~ John Ernst, CEO at Safe Freight Networks Australia, on

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Podcasts and posts on this website about climate emergency


Latest news on BBC about climate change



We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…

The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?

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