Global ‘Climate Emergency’ declarations soar

Reading time: 4 minutes
10 July 2019

Global ‘Climate Emergency’ declarations are soaring as governments work towards long-term carbon neutrality.

The latest figures show that 669 jurisdictions across 15 countries have declared a state of climate emergency, with a number of state and regional governments from across the Under2 Coalition – Wales, Scotland, Catalonia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – joining the pledge.  

The climate emergency movement is a one that is increasingly gaining momentum, especially given the mounting public pressure after a series of climate strikes and protests.

For many governments, the decision to declare coincides with planning for concrete action to address climate change and the implementation of policies that work towards long-term emissions reduction goals.


After Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, declared a climate emergency in April this year, the Scottish government followed up by strengthening its pledge to act on climate change by promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045 - replacing their previous target of 80% reduction by 2050.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, commented:

“The declaration of a global climate emergency has helped bring the need to tackle climate change into even sharper focus. The action that Scotland is taking will ensure our contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation. We are committed to ensuring that our transition to net-zero will be just and fair to everyone. No-one will be left behind.

“Our journey towards becoming a net-zero emitter will require transformative changes across our society, but also presents us with new opportunities to drive a circular, sustainable economy that maximises technology and innovation, while improving our environment and encouraging healthier lifestyles.”

Australian Capital Territory

The first Australian State or Territory to declare a climate emergency, ACT has committed to delivering 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and has a legislated target of zero net emissions by 2045. A strong focus for the ACT Government has been placed on having a clean, sustainable electricity supply, while creating more jobs in the renewable energy industry.

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, commented:

“The climate emergency status means that the Government needs to prioritize climate action. From now on, every time the Government makes a decision we will ask ourselves: what does this decision mean for climate change, for emissions, and for the climate crisis we need to avert? If it is not consistent with reducing emissions, then we need to think again.”


Under2 Coalition member Wales declared a climate emergency earlier this year after witnessing an increase in the number of climate change protests in Wales, the wider UK and across the world. The National Assembly for Wales was the first Parliament in the world to vote in support of such a declaration.

In the light of the declaration the Welsh Government has since confirmed acceptance of the Committee on Climate Change's advice for a 95% emission reduction target by 2050 and committed to going even further and achieving net-zero emissions no later than 2050. In addition, organizations from across Wales have also started to declare with 7 of Wales’ 22 local authorities and many town and community councils also declaring.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs for the Welsh Government, Lesley Griffiths AM, commented:

“The declaration by the Welsh Government aims to trigger a wave of action at home and internationally, from our own communities, businesses and organisations to parliaments and governments around the world.”


The Government of Catalonia saw the decision made to declare a climate emergency across the region in May 2019. As part of the strategy, the government has committed to detect and review any regulations that may favor the emission of greenhouse gases or that may hinder the fight against climate change.

Minister for Territory and Sustainability for the Government of Catalonia, Damià Calvet, commented:

“The declaration of a climate emergency forces us to revise and reschedule actions tackling climate change in the field of energy transition, the decarbonization of mobility and the impulse of the circular economy.

"If we do not fight against climate change, as a country and as a planet, we will have no future, and that challenges all governments, companies and civil society.”

The Under2 Coalition is driven by a group of ambitious state and regional governments committed to keeping global temperature rises to well below 2°C. ​The coalition brings together more than 220 governments who represent over 1.3 billion people and 43% of the global economy. Through three workstreams – 2050 Pathways, Policy Action and Transparency – and several capacity building projects – The Climate Group supports members to achieve ambitious targets.  

What's next?

The Under2 Coalition Secretariat team at The Climate Group will be hosting a webinar in August on the topic of climate emergency declarations.  

Find out more about the Under2 Coalition

Please contact:
Nehmat Kaur, Head of Government Relations, The Climate Group
+44 (0) 207 960 2970
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