National Climate Emergency Summit highlights escalating local action

February 25, 2020 at 12:40 pm Leave a comment

This is not a Drill

Over two days on the 14-15 February about 1800 citizens and delegates met and listened to a wide range of expert speakers and a few politicians talking on the climate emergency.

From the initial welcome to country to the final wrap the details, impacts, and organising efforts of the climate emergency were discussed in detail. There were three main outcomes of the summit: a Safe climate Declaration, Co-ordination of the next High School climate strike on May 15, and Councillors from 70 Municipal and shire councils establishing Climate Emergency Australia (CEA) to further action at municipal and shire government level.

This summit also provided an opportunity for informal networking by citizens actively organising in the climate emergency space.

Climate Emergency Summit and outcomes

1. Emergency statement made by Ian Dunlop, Carmen Lawrence with sign on.

Safe Climate Declaration on the Climate Emergency Summit website, individuals and organisations can sign on to this declaration.

2. High School Climate Strike

70 students held a workshop on Friday for new #studentsdeclare campaign National Climatestrike May 15.

3. Council Declaration

Cr Trent McCarthy delivering Councillor workshop outcomes

Over 100 Councillors from over 70 Councils met Saturday to work across party and partisan lines to address climate action in the #climateemergency and leadership not being addressed at Federal and State levels

Council resolution at CE Summit:
That we form Climate Emergency Australia (CEA), a national network of governments and sector partners, to provide the climate leadership Australia needs. CEA will enable:

* an agreed framework for climate emergency policy, action and accountability.
* collaboration with, and advocacy to, other governments and sectors, and
* further momentum and movement building in response to the climate emergency.
(103 votes)

Proposal 1.
That we endorse a network Development Group (NDG). (106 votes)


See Guardian article for a summary detail of the conference.

Safe Climate Declaration

The original Declaration is on the Climate Emergency Summit website, individuals and organisations can sign on to this declaration.

This Declaration calls for a new approach to climate action in Australia, a response to match the scale of the threat as climate-warming impacts escalate across Australia and around the world.


Australia’s 2019-20 megafires are a harbinger of life and death on a hotter Earth. The climate is already dangerous — in Australia and the Antarctic, in Asia and the Pacific — right around the world. The Earth is unacceptably too hot now.

The impacts of climate disruption are more severe than previously projected. At 1.5°C warming relative to pre-industrial levels, now likely only a decade away, the Great Barrier Reef will be lost, sea levels will be heading for a rise of many metres, and tipping points will be at hand for Greenland, and for the Amazon and other carbon stores.

The current Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments, if implemented, are a path to 3.5°C warming by 2100, possibly earlier. This could increase to 4–5°C when long-term climate-system feedbacks are considered. National security analysts warn that 3°C may result in “outright social chaos”, and 4°C is considered incompatible with the maintenance of human civilisation.

Leading scientists warn of a “Hot House Earth” scenario, a planetary threshold that may exist at a temperature rise as low as 2°C, in which further warming becomes self-sustaining. The challenge now is to return to a safe climate by cooling the Earth whilst avoiding tipping points which may initiate further warming.

This requires an emergency response, where climate is a primary concern of leadership at all levels.


Influential global leaders including political, corporate, media and financial leaders have deliberately refused to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its risks, using predatory delay to prolong an unsustainable economic system. Driven by perverse short-term incentives and lacking the imagination to understand the implications, they have placed humanity in extreme jeopardy.

Many of Australia’s leaders are particularly culpable, having done everything possible over the last three decades to prevent the development of serious climate change policy, internationally and domestically, and to protect the fossil fuel industry. Notwithstanding the fact that Australia is the world’s fourth largest carbon polluter, exports included, and one of the countries most exposed to climate change.

The first duty of a government is to protect the people, their well-being and livelihoods. Instead, Australian governments have left the community largely unprepared for the disasters now unfolding, and for the extensive changes required to maintain a cohesive society as climate change impacts escalate.


In framing solutions to the climate emergency, a stronger democracy is needed, not weaker. The rights of citizens need to be protected to ensure that people are treated with respect, and treated fairly.

Climate change and its solutions will have profound implications for Australia – its peoples and its lands and waters. It is therefore critical to achieve and secure truly meaningful processes that empower indigenous voices, leadership and knowledge.


Australians collectively have a duty of care to protect people, nature and civilisation, both locally and globally. Calls to contribute to solutions to the climate threat need to be fair, taking account of people’s capacity.

Climate change is a global problem requiring unprecedented levels of global cooperation. It obviously cannot be solved by Australian acting alone, but Australia must be fully committed to such cooperation.

Priorities for action include:

  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to zero. All fossil fuel expansion to be stopped immediately; policies which encourage fossil fuel use halted and subsidies removed; and the existing industry wound down rapidly with adjustment programmes for frontline communities. Strategies to minimise methane emissions need to be implemented urgently.
  • Drawing down atmospheric carbon concentrations to a safe level from the current 413 ppm level through actions that include redesigning agricultural and forestry practices and implementing extensive soil, estuarine and ocean carbon sequestration.
  • Working to prevent tipping points and damage while the zero emission and drawdown goals are being achieved.
  • Integrating adaptation and resilience measures into the economic restructuring needed to restore a safe climate and repair ecosystems.

Early action is essential. The prevalent idea of a gradual transition to net zero emissions by 2050 is not tenable. A far faster transition is required, using measures appropriate to an existential threat.

Climate change must be accepted as an overriding threat to national and human security, with the response being the highest priority at national and global levels.


It is in Australia’s self-interest to demand far greater global action on climate change, and to lead by acting itself. It makes no sense to build our economy on fossil fuel resources, practices and technologies which are unsustainable, particularly when Australia has some of the best clean energy resources and opportunities in the world.

This requires leadership which understands the challenge and the opportunities, and is totally committed to accelerating the emergency transition to a safe climate economy. This will not happen with leaders who do not even accept climate change as a priority.

The signatories to this Declaration call on all Australians to join with them in building leadership that embraces the need for such emergency action.

In particular, we will:

  • Emphasise the importance of a non-partisan approach that embraces people of all political parties and sectors of society who are committed to science-based policies that make climate a first priority of government and of the community;
  • Emphasise the value of a non-partisan government of national unity on climate;
  • Hold current political leaders to account if they fail to protect the Australian people;
  • Take action to empower Indigenous voices and leadership;
  • Take action to strengthen democracy and citizen rights;
  • Give priority to engaging with the business community to build understanding of the real nature of the risks and the pace of change required;
  • Work to mobilise and connect all sectors of civil society to make a powerful contribution;
  • Work to reinvigorate public administration and governance skilled and willing to drive the political and economic transition;
  • Advocate tirelessly in public to build understanding and community capacity to drive change;
  • Support the formation of a specialist taskforce to set out a road map for Australia’s emergency transition to restore a safe climate.

Interview with visiting climate scientist Michael E Mann

Barry Mitchell from Radio Adelaide’s Barometer program recorded this interview at the Climate Emergency Summit in Melbourne, about how to mobilise the world on tackling the climate crisis, and how to deal with the pretzel logic of deniers.

A selection of photos from the summit:

Entry filed under: Climate Emergency, news. Tags: , .

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