Climate Truth and Emergency Declarations Are Spreading

On June 14, Pope Francis declared a global climate emergency and made a plea directly to oil executives to hear “the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor.” The Pope is the latest among a chorus of voices that is increasingly overrunning the oil and gas industry’s disinformation campaigns, bringing to the public, in a way never before, the true scope and urgency of the climate crisis. 

Early this month, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz called for a World War II-scale mobilization to fight the climate crisis as the existential threat it is. And Greta Thunberg continues to sound a clarion call on behalf of her generation and the future they are fighting for; she and other youth activists have called for a general strike on September 20 in support of climate action. A week ago, the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration (our close advisors and allies) published a policy paper outlining the perils we face if the world’s governments fail to keep global heating from exceeding the Paris Agreement’s best limit of 1.5°C. The horrific risks it describes including major famines, resource wars, massive migrations, and widespread, severe degradation of agriculture and habitable land). The likelihood of such outcomes has started getting much-needed attention in the mainstream U.S. media, among other places. 

The Guardian, one of the U.K.’s major newspapers, also took an important step this month toward recognizing the oncoming climate catastrophe for what it is. The newspaper released a statement that it would use the terms “climate emergency, crisis, or breakdown” rather than “climate change” to describe the interrelated, cascading effects of increased global temperatures and their effects on human and non-human life. Noticias Telemundo, the news division of the second largest Spanish-language broadcasting company in the U.S., will also be using “climate emergency” to describe the situation going forward.  

Climate Emergency Declarations Continue to Accelerate

The Industrial Revolution and its dependence on carbon began in the United Kingdom, and is culminating now in the accelerating climate crisis. It is appropriate, then, that people and their local governments in the U.K.  are now taking responsibility for these emissions by recognizing and committing to confront the climate emergency. At current count, more than half of the U.K. populace lives in a city or region whose local government has declared a climate emergency. This milestone follows a national declaration of Climate and Environmental Emergency by the U.K. government.

Outside the U.K., the climate emergency campaign continues to accelerate. The Irish Parliament declared a climate emergency, as did the government of Catalonia and the first municipal governments in Belgium (Koekelberg), the Czech Republic (Prague 7th District), and France (Mulhouse City Council). Close to half of New Zealanders now live in cities that have declared a climate emergency — all of which have declared in the last month. As of May 1, no city in Italy had declared a climate emergency; now more than a dozen have, including Naples and Milan, representing close to 15% of the country’s population. Germany has similarly seen 14 cities declare an emergency in the last six weeks. And new cities in Australia, Switzerland, and the United States are declaring climate emergency. 

May also saw a major setback, as a conservative coalition tied closely to coal interests won federal elections in Australia, where the climate emergency — and its increasingly visible, deadly consequences in that country — was a central issue.

For updated data on Climate Emergency declarations, please visit the International Climate Emergency Forum public database

Cover of Leading the Public into Emergency Mode paper

Leading the Public into Emergency Mode

Recognition that we are deep into a climate emergency is accelerating tremendously. The Climate Mobilization’s Leading the Public into Emergency Mode (published 2016, and updated this month) describes the transformative power of telling the truth about the climate emergency and the social movement ecosystem this can invigorate, creating the necessary rapid shift in consciousness needed to achieve a WWII-scale climate mobilization. 

Read and share the updated Leading the Public Into Emergency Mode: Introducing the Climate Emergency Movement.