Draft Preface to a Climate Emergency Handbook

With increasing numbers of local councils declaring climate emergencies, perhaps it is time for a Climate Emergency Handbook. Here is a very rough draft of a Preface for such.

[UPDATE: climate-emergency-handbook.org has been set up as a platform to develop a handbook.]


With the publication of the IPPC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C [1] on 8 October 2018, it has become overwhelmingly evident that strong action on global warming must be taken now. The targets and target dates set in Paris are insufficient[2].

Governments appear to be incapable of taking the necessary actions because of fears of losing international competitiveness.

In light of government inaction local governments have started to declare a Climate Emergency. As of 13 December 2018 there are 6 in England, 7 in the USA and 7 in Australia [3]. Surely many more will follow.

It is not just local government that can declare a Climate Emergency. Anyone and any organisation can do so.

This handbook has been written to provide an action guide for those who have declared a Climate Emergency.

There are no right ways to do this, so take what works for you from this handbook. Also what you can do depends upon what level of control you have. For example:

  • National governments can change laws, taxation and budgets.
  • Local governments have less control, but can play a vital role.
  • Companies have control over their suppliers – ie who they buy goods and services from.
  • Individuals, particularly acting collectively, can also influence those they buy goods and services from.

Some of the suggested actions are based on those that have already been taken by those declaring a Climate Emergency, others are new.

At the end of the handbook you will find a list of resources. For an updated list, visit the handbook website. The resources include:

  • “Don’t mention the emergency[4]” which while Australian in origin, has a global message on how to language the emergency and calls to action.
  • Websites which provide advice and avenues for action.
  • The Club of Rome which has recently released a “Climage Emergency Plan[5]”.

The handbook is full of suggestions. Some suggestions are for individuals, others for organisations, while most of the suggestions can be used by both individuals and organisations. In summary the suggestions include:

  • For organisations, depending on the existing organisation structure, create something that is in line with this emergency being the organisations top priority. Why top priority? Because if the climate crisis is not averted, the organisation will have no future.
  • Reporting – this is not wartime – there is no need for secrecy – make reporting as public as possible.
  • Make the climate emergency first order of business at all meetings
  • An organisation should have an Action Plan. The suggested items below can also be used as a set of suggestions for individual action.
    Items to consider in an Action Plan include:

    • Purpose and Inteded Results (P&IR) or Purpose, Objectives and Outcomes (POO)
    • Set a goal such as zero carbon emissions in your area or for your organisation by a date, such as 2025 or 2030 with measurable mileposts. While tomorrow may not be possible, the earlier the date the better.
    • Disinvestment: Disinvest from fossil fuel industries, both your (organisation’s) own funds and pension funds. Find and use a bank that does not provide funding to fossil fuel exploration or development, nor invest in fossil fuel industries. Find and use insurance companies that do not provide cover to fossil fuel industries and do not re-insure with companies that provide cover to fossil fuel industries.
    • Ensure all electricity purchases are from a renewables tariff.
    • Ensure all gas purchases are from suppliers who guarantee not to supply gas from fracking.
    • Specially for local authorities, consider establishing your own energy supplier (as has Bristol [6]).
    • If your organisation is large enough require of suppliers that they make, other wise look for suppliers who have made, their own climate emergency declaration, action plan, and are successfully implementing their plan.
    • Public engagement including, but not limited to:
      • This is real and urgent action is needed now.
      • Diet – spread the message that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce environmental impact on the planet[7].
      • Purchasing (as above) look for suppliers who have declared a Climate Emergency and are actively taking steps.
      • Support or deliver climate emergency briefings which would outline the science of global warming and the actions that can and are being taken to deal with it, and what more needs to be done.
      • Sign a climate emergency pledge (see below).
    • Conduct a micro-hydro survey. In the UK studies have estimated that there is potential for the development of 850 to 1550 MW of micro-hydro[8], often by the the redevelopment of abandoned water mills.
    • Retrofit existing housing stock. As the Guardian reported, the UK’s housing stock ‘needs massive retrofit to meet climate targets'[8].
    • Beware – don’t make other issues worse. Global Warming is not the only issue that needs to be addressed. Check that your planned actions won’t make other issues worse. For example using productive farm land to grow crops for bio-fuels or for solar electricity generation will have adverse effects on global food supply.
    • Make the assumptions that your plan is based on explicit & regularly review them – things will change fast over the coming years – good assumptions may turn bad very quickly
  • Many proposed actions will require significant funding. In the absence of, or as well as, national government funding, things to consider are setting up a local charity, and undertaking retrofitting in partnership with energy suppliers.
  • Associations / Twin Towns – encourage the associations you or your organisation belong to / twin towns to declare a climate emergency.
  • Support a Climate Emergency Project or something similar that promotes a Climate Emergency Declaration such as:
    • I/We acknowlege that Global Warming is an existential threat to all life on Earth.
      I/We also acknowlege that I/We am/are powerless to deal with this threat on my/our own.
      Therefore I/we shall act with others to deal with this threat by reducing or eliminating my/our meat consumption and giving strong preference in my/our purchase (and investment) decisions to individuals and organisations that have declared a climate emergency and are taking effective action on the emergency.
This entry was posted in Sustainability Essays and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>