IEMA declares a Climate and Environmental Emergency

1st November 2019

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Michaela Payne

In September, IEMA declared a Climate and Environmental Emergency. What does this mean, and how can we all get involved?

The past 18 months have seen an escalation in climate action and concern, including landmark science reports, news and documentaries, international school strikes and Extinction Rebellion's direct action. To what degree does this help the case for transformative change? Declared emergencies are growing and proving formative. The first was the City of Darebin in Melbourne, which declared in December 2016 and then progressed its Climate Emergency Plan. Parliament has declared a climate emergency, as have more than half of UK councils, and the Local Government Association recently declared and agreed to establish a climate emergency network special interest group. IEMA members have been influential in securing declarations, such as at Eastleigh Borough Council and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Declarations often include a carbon neutrality or zero carbon target, as well as commitments to develop a plan or strategy. Language is developing, and The Guardian announced it would begin using 'climate crisis' along with 'global heating'. Targets are also being set in the private sector. Pledges can be registered within schemes such as UNFCCC's Climate Neutral Now. Corporate declarations are being encouraged under initiatives like Business Declares or via B Corp.

IEMA's declaration is rooted in international science and the knowledge that we can make a contribution to the rapid transition required. We have made our own commitments to carbon neutrality in 2020 and progressively towards zero-carbon operations, embedding climate change in key services and across our value chain. Our member-led Climate Change and Energy network is developing events, webinars and a climate action toolbox. On the policy front, we will respond to government consultations and are influencing international standards via ISO. All IEMA members can register to join the Climate Change and Energy network – go to

Read more about our declaration at

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