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Environment

Sydney Declares Climate Emergency, Joining Fast-Growing Global Movement

Why Global Citizens Should Care
More than 600 governments have declared climate emergencies as a way to highlight the severity of climate change's impact. The United Nations urges countries to rapidly transition to clean energy economies to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. You can join us in taking action on related issues here.

Sydney became the latest major city to declare a climate emergency on Friday as a way to accelerate efforts to mitigate climate change and transition to a clean energy economy, according to the New York Times.

More than 600 local, state, and other governments have declared climate emergencies in response to activist demands that world leaders take climate change more seriously. Although 22 other local governments in Australia have declared climate emergencies, voters at the national level recently rejected proposals to restrict carbon emissions during federal elections.

In the announcement, the city council urged the federal government to enact a carbon tax and create an office to help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to sustainable jobs.

Sydney’s Mayor Clover Moore published a mayoral minute on Friday. She said that Australia in particular has to take a strong stance on climate change, the Guardian reports.

“Cities need to show leadership, especially when you’re not getting that leadership from the national government,” Moore said.

“On January 24, 2019, 91 of the hottest 100 places on Earth were in Australia,” she said. “Heat waves on our continent are now five times more likely. But it is not just their frequency that is alarming – they start earlier, become hotter, and last longer.”

Read More: Why Cities May Be the Key to Stopping Climate Change

Sydney, which is the most populous city in Australia, already has an ambitious climate action plan. The government is on track to get 100% of its electricity through renewable sources by 2024, six years ahead of its initial target, and it aims to fully eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the Guardian notes.

Cities and states around the world have become leaders in the fight against climate change because they’re often more capable of rapidly responding to issues than federal governments.

New York, for example, recently unveiled the most ambitious bill to fight climate change in the United States. More than 19 mayors from cities as diverse as Tokyo and Paris, all vowed to make new buildings carbon neutral by 2030. London, meanwhile, recently enacted a law that charges pollution heavy vehicles to use the city’s roads.

Read More: Cities Are the Best Place to Fight Climate Change, UN Says

Local governments have also championed the Paris climate agreement, which urges countries to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. In Australia, four cities, including Sydney, were recently given an “A” by the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, for their efforts to meet the Paris agreement’s goals.  

Experts contend that without federal action, however, these goals will likely remain out of reach, because federal governments have access to far greater resources and can enact more sweeping change.

In her announcement, Moore highlighted how solidarity is critical to effective climate action.

“This emergency is not just about the numbers, it is about our communities, and its impacts are felt by us all, particularly the poorest amongst us – the vulnerable, the marginalised and those that live in remote communities,” Moore said.