Climate Emergency Declarations in Australia and Worldwide are Building Momentum

You have probably heard the term “Climate Change” mentioned in the news and public life, but have you also heard of the term “Climate Emergency”? From 15,000 school students going on School Strike for Climate in Australia last November, to famous nature documentary maker David Attenborough, and even Anthony Keidis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in California, more and more people are talking about the climate emergency and encouraging their Federal, State and Local governments to make Climate Emergency Declarations.

A movement spearheaded by Australia’s “Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation in Action (CEDAMIA)” and the broader Australian climate emergency declaration movement, as well as The Climate Mobilization in the USA is working hard to help more people realise that the threat of climate damage is not far off, and nor is it unsolvable.

We are seeing impacts now such as more frequent heat waves and droughts, and more dangerous fires, more frequent and powerful extreme weather events. Australians are saddened by recent bushfires in Tasmania and Queensland which saw devastating losses of unique biodiversity as well as 1-in-100-year flood in Townsville and widescale flooding in North Queensland.

But Climate Emergency Declarations also highlight that we have the solutions at hand. Key aspects include that we have to stop burning fossil fuels, most urgently stopping new fossil fuel projects from being undertaken, and transition our standing and transport energy to 100% renewables. Carbon drawdown techniques such as sequestration in soils and protecting forests will also help.

State and Federal Climate Emergency Declarations require governments to develop and implement plans to effectively make these changes. Local councils can also have Climate Emergency Declarations, which focus on councils doing what they can locally to reduce carbon emissions. Local council climate emergency plan ideas include banning natural gas connections to new buildings, and setting climate-smart building standards, as well as raising community awareness of climate-smart options.

To date, councils have declared climate emergencies in the following places,

Australia: 8 councils, 650,187 persons
United Kingdom: 21 councils and 1 authority: 12,633,895 persons
USA: 9 councils, 5,750,171 persons
Canada: 258 councils, 6,592,648 persons

Total: 297 local government bodies, 25,626,901 persons (as at 14 Feb 2019) 

Implementing Climate Emergency Plans, especially at the state and federal levels, needs to happen rapidly to help protect the climate for our kids’ to have a liveable world. The scale of this change has been likened to a World War 2 scale mobilisation effort.

Margaret Hender from CEDAMIA points out that it’s important to call on our governments to “Declare a Climate Emergency”. It’s one thing to use climate emergency messaging, but declaring an emergency at the state or federal level implies design and implementation of a climate emergency plan. As Margaret tells me, “declaring an emergency is a powerful public signal. It indicates that the government itself will be giving high priority to reversing the Climate Emergency rather than continuing with ‘business as usual’. It also functions as a call to action, prompting everyone to think that their own actions will make a difference because everyone, including the government, will be working together towards a common goal.”

As the new but rapidly growing school strike for climate movement inspired by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg grows, UK students are calling on governments to make climate emergency declarations. Adults inspired to join Greta’s broader worldwide climate strike movement on Fridays called Fridays for Future have also been empowered to consider climate emergency messaging on their placards. Inspired by the school strike movement and young people’s awareness of the climate emergencyAustralian parents and grandparents have taken Greta Thunberg’s call to treat “the crisis like a crisis” to heart and are also calling for the government to declare a climate emergency.

But we are seeing momentum of and support for actions at this scale. For example, 1) the Green New Deal proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the USA, 2) California has committed to transition to 100 % renewables by 2045 for electricity, and 3) South Australia is on track to reach 75% renewable energy for electricity by 2025.

It is important to remind ourselves that this is possible. Indeed it is necessary. This is the scale of action that is required for our kids to have a liveable world. It might seem scary to think about at first, but on the other side of understanding the magnitude of the challenge we face, lies action and therefore hope. Why not spend some time today learning about how Australia can transition to 100 percent renewables? This is the kind of information that helps me feel empowered to protect my kids’ liveable world.

To find out more about Climate Emergency Declarations and how you can support them, head to or check out the additional links below.

Additional links:

CEDAMIA (Australia)

Worldwide list of climate emergency declarations:

Key Australian thought leaders involved in developing the Climate Emergency Declaration framework:  Mik Aidt (Geelong Sustainability), Anthony Gleeson (Centre for Climate Safety), Margaret Hender (CORENA), Jane Morton (DarebinCAN), David Spratt (Climate Code Red), Philip Sutton (RSTI), and Luke Taylor (Breakthrough).

Darebin City Council climate emergency plan:
(Darebin City Council, part of Melbourne in Australia, was the first council in the world to declare a climate emergency).

How to talk about the climate emergency (Jane Moreton):

Resources for CEDs in Australia:

The Australian Climate Emergency DEclaration movement and groups supporting this:

The Climate Emergency Declaration (CED) petition to all 3 levels of govt is at

The NSW state petition is at

(petitions for other states are available on the website)

If you want to ask people to sign online, just use those links.

To download a hardcopy of the CED petition see

To download a hardcopy of the NSW petition see

Climate Emergency Declaration Resources USA:

Worldwide resources: Climate Emergency Declarations resources for Councils worldwide are available via Australia’s Community Action in the Climate Emergency group :


Sandgate mudflats - clean - Heidi Edmonds

Image: Heidi Edmonds – Children on Brisbane Mudflats – Why the Climate Emergency Matters to Me

New writing from me on sustainability – via Sustainability Hackers

I am very pleased to have some of my thoughts on sustainability – from caring for wildlife to reducing plastic use as a parent, sustainable fashion, op-shopping and looking after our health while we care for the planet – up now on the new Sustainability Hackers community site!! Congratulations to eco-publisher and super-amazing-lady Elissa Jenkins – Publisher, Producer, Puppeteer for bringing this new project together.

Just look up the articles by Heidi Edmonds from Climate Kiss. I’ll post links here soon. 🙂




Dear kids, I am an adult working to protect your safe, liveable planet. And I just want to say… hello…   

If you are 12+ this letter about protecting your future is for you 

Dear kids,

We’ve got a situation here. The planet is warming above safe levels, and we have to increase our efforts to protect our climate and keep it cool for your safe future. As renowned climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says, “Climate change is real. It’s us. It’s bad. But there are all kinds of solutions.”

One of my friends has a 12-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn. Her dad told me that she was worried about the state of the world. So this is my way of letting her and other young people know what I know about the current state of the world, why I am inspired and hopeful about the future, and the many young (and old) people protecting it. I also share ways that young people can get involved in protecting their future.

But first, why haven’t the adults already fixed up the climate? And why aren’t enough adults paying attention to their climate? You probably hear about climate change science in your school classes these days. Most adults, like myself, didn’t learn about climate science and solutions through school so we have had to learn about it through the news, friends, community groups, university, etc. I used to think that the impacts of climate change on our planet were far off, centuries in the future, and that our governments were working hard towards finding solutions. Australia even had, in 2013, a world-leading, federal carbon pricing or “Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).” But over time I witnessed that our governments were not all meeting their obligations to protect the future, with some even ignoring climate science, through what is called climate science denial.

I had two little girls, born in 2014 and 2016. They are my whole world. And the heat on my back as I took them round the streets in their buggy felt uncomfortably, disconcertingly hot. So I finally made the time to educate myself about climate science and solutions, and what I can best do to help. From educating myself I now know that we are already seeing the dangerous results of a changing climate, and climate action is extremely urgent. As we hear of heatwaves across the globe and droughts that may lead to food shortages, it seems that it is crunch time now. We have to keep calling on governments, industry and society to reduce fossil fuel use to net zero by 2050, if not before.

Protecting our climate is difficult because it still requires big changes in how we use resources as a society. A great place to start to learn about solutions is through a book called Drawdown by environmental writer Paul Hawken, who got some of the world’s best researchers and scientists to help determine the 100 best solutions to reverse global warming to protect our safe climate. You can also check out the This Is Zero Hour youth platform for protecting the climate for a great list of things to ask for when speaking with your politicians, parents and friends. You could educate yourself, your friends and family about ways to take personal actions, and raise awareness for climate solutions through an eco-challenge like Drawdown EcoChallenge 2018.

When I first learned that my children’s future was in danger, I was scared. But I found taking action, and connecting with others who were taking action, the most powerful antidote. One of the most powerful ways I can recommend to protect your safe future is joining a movement with others, where you can learn to lobby your politicians and speak out for your future. I have interviewed some young climate activists who share their stories below. You can also use your creativity and knowledge to explore new solutions and ideas, like the special, climate change resilient houses: You could get inspired by some of the young people mentioned in this video by Katharine Hayhoe: youtube videos. As a young person in Australia, if you would like to speak up as an advocate for your safe future, you can get involved with Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia, but you might also find like-minded young people through organisations like Switched on Schools (Australia), the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC, and Seed (

Young people, you deserve a safe, habitable planet. You are so loved by your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, friends, etc. and I can assure you that the adults that understand the climate challenge are doing all we can to protect your safe climate. As well as the stories by young people, I have included additional links at the end of the article to inspire you to take action to protect your future. I would love to hear from you about the actions you take to protect your safe climate and liveable planet. We are all in this together.

Kind regards,



Young people’s voices and actions are some of the greatest forces for change:

Here’s a few quotes from young people like yourself that I have had the pleasure to interview about their own climate action.

Emelly Villa, This is Zero Hour

6174624736_IMG_1502Emelly Villa, a 17-year-old working with the youth climate movement shares her thoughts with me on when and how children should learn about climate change:  “I had always heard about climate change growing up, but I had never really understood it up until two years ago. Two years ago I happened to come upon a documentary talking about the dangerous effects climate change would have on our future. There, climate change was depicted as an issue with no solution which led to me feeling very overwhelmed and unaware of how to do my part. However, after doing my own research and witnessing our youth come together, such as what is being done in Zero Hour, I’ve learned that while there is a lot of work to be done there is still hope.”

Jamie Margolin, This is Zero Hour

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 5.14.34 PM.pngJamie Margolin, the 16-year-old leader of the youth movement and a plaintiff on the Washington state “Youth v. Gov” climate lawsuit uses her writing, community building and many other skills to inspire climate action. You can read her article in CNN here, where she ponders the big IF of what the future holds, and inspires leaders and people everywhere to act. She’s a very inspiring speaker and you can hear some of her thoughts in this podcast. Zero Hour even have their own platform for protecting the climate. One of her many quotable expressions from a recent TV interview on HVN was this: “The problem with society not taking climate action is not denial. It’s apathy.” She shared with me how she became aware of the need for political action on climate: “My grandpa was a Jew who fought in WW2, so I grew up watching holocaust and WW2 documentaries and more War time movies than I can remember. My dad and grandpa are both aviation engineers so I also grew up watching documentaries about space, the cosmos, and most importantly the environment and the planet. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a political consciousness and cared. I’ve always cared and been invested in the events and issues in the world.”

And she had this advice for young people keen to take climate action in her interview with Ultimate Civics:  “Just get started. Attend a community event and start talking to people there and work your way into that world. That’s how I got started and my involvement snowballed from there.”

Chante, AYCC

20170408_154515 - Chanté Bock.pngChante is 24, from Melbourne, Victoria. She is the Victorian Schools Co-coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). I asked her what inspired her to get active in protecting our safe climate? “I think that climate change is the greatest threat to society at large, the greatest threat to my safe and happy future and the safe and happy future that I want for my children that I want to have. I want future generations to love and enjoy the planet just as I have.”

Grace Vegesana, AYCC

WeddingGrace Vegesana, at 18, is the NSW State Leader for the AYCC. I asked her about a place special to her that she wants to protect from climate change. She shared a beautiful, local, personal story: “It’s the deciduous London Plane tree in my neighbour’s backyard that I watch most carefully. Ever since I was a child, I’ve watched excitedly as that tree transforms from its uniform shades of green, to intensely sunset coloured the moment Autumn arrived. Today, 13 years on, it is Winter, June 5th, and the same tree has not shed a leaf, and is still as green as it was in Spring.”

She also shared her thoughts on when we can discuss climate with children.

 “A really tough question. As an 18 year old, full time climate activist, I joined [AYCC] because I felt a sense of absolute and utter urgency, but I understand the need to maintain youth innocence, so kids aren’t having 1/4 life crises at 18 like I did…[but] there shouldn’t be an age limit on when you can start learning, especially about climate change, which children inherit from previous generations’ mistakes.”

Sarah Plaut, Asheville High School, Drawdown EcoChallenge winner

Sarah Plaut, a 17-year-old, was a student at Asheville High School, North Carolina, USA. Her school group won the Drawdown EcoChallenge in 2018. I asked her what inspired her to get active in protecting our safe climate: “Throughout my life I noticed temperatures rising by the year and strange weather patterns. Seeing hurricanes crash into the Caribbean year after year is terrifying. [In] science classes I started to learn the science behind climate change. This year specifically, hearing about drawdown, I began to realize there are things that we as individuals can actually change.” She offered the following advice for kids (and adults) wanting to do more to look after our climate and our planet: “Your actions can make a difference. Everyone thinks just because the problem is too big it can never be solved. However, small actions such as reaching out to your government officials or eating less meat actually do make a huge impact.”

Here are some resources to help you on your way to becoming a private or a public advocate for your own future (and your parents might find these helpful too!):

 A) Fact-checking and critical analysis:

One of the issues raised by young people in a recent ABC Behind the News QandA ( was how to tell fact from fiction in the news. Young people in the show wanted to know how best to develop critical analysis skills. Here are a few ideas and resources to help with this for climate awareness: 

  1. Stick with the global authorities and internationally recognised voices to start with. Just as there are climate science deniers, there are some people who believe in climate change but speak of doomsday scenarios. However, the majority of respected climate scientists, such as those listed below, say that reversing global warming will be hard but is do-able. Then once you get your confidence up, you can venture online and further develop your own opinion – but try to focus on the solutions!!
  2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC, is the leading global authority on climate change. However their output generally consists of detailed reports. I would love to see them share more infographics and simple, accessible information.
  3. Alliance for Climate Education (ACE, head to their website and learn how climate change is “simple, serious andsolvable”. This website provides climate science and action resources for kids
  4. Look for peer reviewed articles, from scientists trained in the relevant area. (See my list at the end for some of my favourite climate scientists and activists that you can follow on twitter, etc.)
  5. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science: a) Google it (do an internet search to check for corroboration), b) check, c) look in an encyclopaedia, d) ask a professor in that field
  6. Reliable climate news in Australia can usually be found at and
  7. Learn basic chemistry/maths/critical analysis so you can make up your own mind as new climate topics/solutions/actions come to light
  8. Emily Willingham (Forbes, 2012) offers some more ideas to tell real news from fake news: “10 Questions To Distinguish Real From Fake Science”

 B) Advocacy and education for young people:

  1. Switched on Schools (Australia, via AYCC)
  2. AYCC ( (Australia)
  3. Seed ( (Australia)
  4. Alliance for Climate Education ( (USA) 
  5. ThisIsZeroHour org ( (USA) 
    Youth Climate March Washington DC July 21 2018 + sister marches
  6. Parachutes for the Planet (for kids of any age):
    ( (USA) 
  7. Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia: (sign up with your parents!!) (Australia)
  8. My site: facebook:
  9. Learn more about solutions to climate change that are good for our communities now: Project Drawdown: (
  12. Look after yourself!! Reachout mental fitness:
  13. Start your own movement or find your own solution: Katharine Hayhoe:
  14. Greta Thunberg’s climate strike from school in Sweden:
  15. How to talk to kids of different ages to engage them on climate change and environmental issues (my article): 


Politicians speaking up for climate:  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, USA:

Mark Butler:


Cool climate scientists:  

Katharine Hayhoe

Michael E Mann:

Kim Cobb:

Leading Australian climate scientists via the Climate Council


About the author:

Dr Heidi Edmonds is an ecologist / environmental engineer with a PhD in freshwater ecology who is currently a freelance research scientist while raising two young children. As a science communicator and a mother, she is especially interested in making climate science and climate action accessible, simple and easy to understand for more people. Check out her blog at (

A dose of climate optimism… “Dear tired climate activist”

Ok…. you guys, the amazing folks who have been working on raising climate awareness for decades but you are feeling a bit tired and fed up with it all… this is for you…a dose of climate optimism. 

I initially wrote a version of this post to a friend on Facebook who has been engaged with raising awareness about the climate emergency for many years. In the face of climate denialists and the massive changes in our energy use that we need to action pronto to protect our planet, my friend was feeling disheartened and possibly making some other people feel disheartened too. So I wrote a climate optimism piece in rebuttal. Since then i have felt I needed to share some of these ideas with others on other platforms like twitter, and in real life. 🙂 I see a need to spark climate optimism amongst people who can get disheartened with the effort over many years of trying to wake people up to the climate emergency. I think that everyone needs to be uplifted and reenergised as we hit crunch time in the climate protection fight. We need to energise and nourish ourselves so we can move forward and help make the changes to society’s energy use and follow the sustainable practices that are required. I feel that I have some insights into why we should be optimistic. So here you go: 


Dear tired climate activist,

I am going to have to start rebutting you and your gloominess as actively as I do my climate-change denying pals. Humanity is not doomed. It’s in dire peril, I admit, but I am on the case now and I am pretty sure that I am part of a growing movement of awareness-raising, solutions-focused, info-graphic wielding, general public. I am also part of a growing movement of engineers and non-pure-scientists sensitively taking up the technical concerns of how we are going to protect our world.

If you look at your comments, even when you write gloomy things, you do sprinkle hope throughout… so as a fellow scientist I encourage you to update your executive summary/one liners! Put the hope up front. We have to lead with hope for the future we want and love for the things that we cherish and want to protect. These are powerful forces. My father is a Professor of Economics, and he gave me some great advice when I first started engaging with the climate emergency. He suggested that I acknowledge the scary realities of the situation, and then focus on the solutions. I have found this to be a great approach to keep my energies focused.

Looking for inspiration and motivation? As i state in my presentation on talking to kids in age appropriate ways about climate and environment it’s up to us adults to find our optimism to enable the kids voices to lead change. Young people are one of my greatest sources of hope as they know A LOT about climate and can even teach adults about it. Many of them learn about the science in school, and they understand how important finding solutions to protect our climate is, because it’s their future we are working to protect. But we all need to be teaching ourselves more about the solutions, which will require more than just renewable energy and reducing resource use. I feel hopeful for and inspired by youth-led climate action like, and MANY other groups of amazing young people who share personal stories and articulate social-justice based climate solutions.

Want to know where to find out more about potential solutions? How about Healthy Climate Alliance ? Yes, we have exceeded safe atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. We are going to need to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and invest in ecologically sensitive geoengineering, optimal land-use, or other techniques to remove carbon from the atmosphere. It can all be a bit daunting and scary I know, but it’s also exciting and challenging to engage with potential solutions. Not even climate scientists are experts in climate rehabilitation so I encourage you to check out Healthy Climate Alliance or similar. Or do a search for a carbon drawdown / negative emissions conference close to you. You should also check out and their 100 solutions to reverse global warming. I feel fortunate that the start of my climate activist journey coincided with the release of Project Drawdown’s body of work, with a road map and inspiration to get to the point where carbon in the atmosphere will drawdown.

I feel that as an engineer + ecologist + science communicator I am well poised to help the world make some of the big and tough decisions we are going to have to make. Confronting climate change, its mitigation and adaptation is not without grief. We have already lost amazing animals and people to our changing climate. But there is hope that we are going to turn this around in the next few years, because we have to. As part of that we need to make sure people are all doing their part to make and inspire change. The biggest challenge still appears to be getting global action, getting enough people on board to instigate major shifts in how we generate energy.

Please have a think about how you talk about climate. Leading with “we are all doomed” without a reference or link or any need to say that in the first place is going to switch people off from trying to make change!! It is ok to coast and to give up (preferably while still eating predominantly plant-based diets and reducing, refusing and reusing waste) when you have been struggling so long to get the world to listen. But please don’t be an agent to make people tune out, as I blame an article I once read that was a bit too gloomy for disempowering me when I could have been forging ahead.

For every gloomster there is a hopester. Maybe that’s what a hipster really is.  None of this “good one humanity” business, please. There are so many bright, bright lights and inspiring people that we have to keep seeing the light. I believe that the pursuit of joy and happiness, building hope and leading with love, rather than running from the darkness, is going to get us through.

Don’t let the global warming deniers get you down. We can solve this despite the deniers.  We just need to activate the believers who are not doing enough to make change, we need to turn some more of these slackers (slacktivists?) into activists. We don’t need to convince everyone to pay attention to climate, just enough people

Like a university student who does their best work the night before an assignment is due, i believe that it is now that we are noticing global heat waves, and seeing our precious coral reefs bleaching, that we are going to see a global movement for change. Just in the nick of time, but building on all the work that has gone before.

My friend Dr Tammra Warby paints a picture of a kind of solutions focused optimism that helps you find solutions even in dark times. It is this optimism that I champion. One driven by the ability to seek out and cherish what we love, that my favourite author Regena Thomashauer writes of – using pleasure to have our way with the world. For I believe in imagining the world we want. Then we work towards that. Don’t dwell on the dangers. Acknowledge them, and then cherish what it is that we are protecting, and protect it. Our kids’ future. The kids of the future are all of ours. We are all parents, aunties, uncles, friends, teachers, carers for our future loved ones.

Addendum: #climateoptimism in an ongoing pursuit. For me, when I discover new angles on the challenges facing us in the efforts to protect the future for those we love, I just seek out new solutions. For the moment, my efforts towards solutions are focused on talking about climate action and the need to invest in renewables, carbon capture and climate adaptation… tomorrow I might need to focus on something else, on something more. Here are some articles and links to resources that provide optimistic (though sometimes confronting!) food for thought, written by some of the climate optimists among us.


Links to articles by some of the climate optimists among us (updated August 13th 2018): 

Naomi Klein:

Dr Erle C. Ellis

Akshat Rathe:

Kate Marvel:

Shannon Osaka:

Katharine Hayhoe:


Katherine Richardson

Andy Martin:


About the author:

Dr Heidi Edmonds is an ecologist / environmental engineer with a PhD in freshwater ecology who is currently a freelance research scientist while raising two young children. As a science communicator and a mother, she is especially interested in making climate science and climate action accessible, simple and easy to understand for more people. Check out her blog at (

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Slides + video: conversations with kids on climate + environment


Big thanks to Citizens Climate Lobby: Australia for sharing the video and powerpoint slides from my guest presentation about talking to kids about climate and the environment. Links to both here:

Big thanks to Emelly and Jamie from Zero Hour, Grace, Chante and Nicholas from Australian Youth Climate Coalition, kids from Asheville High School who won the Project Drawdown EcoChallenge and Sunni Tang from the Alliance for Climate Education for taking the time to answer my interview questions. Direct links to youtube and slides below to make it easy for you to find them  x Heidi



Blog article for parents:

Blog article for kids coming soon!

For more kids resources head to: 

Image: David Clode via Unsplash