We are in a climate emergency. It’s hard to keep hold of that thought when the emergency seems to drag on and on. Just as we are so weary of the Covid-19 pandemic and we want it to go away, we’d really like the climate emergency to go away too.

But we know that’s not going to happen. Not yet.

So, rather than pretending everything is fine; or giving up; or letting ourselves feel overwhelmed; or just weeping all day (or whatever), thousands of people throughout the world are continuing to chip away at this major global challenge, each doing our bit. As you are by taking the time to read this article.

As a result of sustained community pressure in dozens of localities throughout Australia, over 110 Councils in Australia have declared a climate emergency, most recently (in July 2022) Liverpool City Council in NSW and Derwent Valley Council in Tasmania.

Having declared a climate emergency, Councils need to follow this up with action. In November 2018 Darebin Council in Victoria followed up their Climate Emergency Declaration with a local conference. A key presentation was by Philip Sutton: he explored what it would take to deliver maximum protection of the climate vulnerable and the restoration of a safe climate. He sketched an action framework to cool the planet fast, via zero emissions and carbon dioxide drawdown, through emergency mode action by government, businesses and the community, and building on key historical case studies of large-scale, rapid restructuring of economies.

His presentation is still totally relevant in 2022 as we’ve experienced the pandemic, the extreme 2019-20 bushfires, and recent extreme floods in Australia.

His talk is utterly applicable to grassroots community groups who can have a powerful influence on local government.


Sadly Philip Sutton died suddenly (suspected heart attack) in June 2022, leaving an enormous legacy of work for climate action.

Here is his obituary in the Guardian:


Some links to explore

Climate Emergency Declaration website: https://climateemergencydeclaration.org/

Global Emergency Declaration data sheet: https://www.cedamia.org/global/

Council and Community Action in the Climate Emergency: building the safe climate campaign from councils up: comprehensive resources for action both for Councils and community groups https://www.caceonline.org/

Alerting us to the risk of the phrase “climate emergency” being co-opted to mean something ‘convenient’ or ‘pragmatic’, a blog by Bryony Edwards in Darebin, Vic, Australia, was reposted on the website of the US Climate Mobilisation

South Australia declaration of climate emergency: https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/news-hub/news/articles/2022/06/south-australia-declares-climate-emergency

Mary Stringer, August 2022