Why Sydney’s climate emergency is an example of action from below

As national governments continue to drag their feet and prop up dying fossil fuel industries, climate action will rely on action from local governments.

Clover Moore sydney climate emergency Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

This week the City of Sydney declared a climate emergency, despite howls of outrage from predictable quarters. The declaration is timely — a recent United Nations report suggested we have just 11 years left to avoid a climate catastrophe. The declaration comes against a backdrop of years of government inaction, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore said successive federal governments had “presided over a climate disaster”. 

Sydney’s declaration comes alongside a commitment to use 100% renewable energy by 2020 and to reduce its emissions 70% by 2024. The council also made vague promises to call on the federal government to reintroduce a carbon price. While Sydney is not alone in calling climate change an emergency, its unclear what exactly these declarations mean and whether they can do anything. 

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