fb-pixel Skip to main content

Sydney to declare a climate emergency in face of national inaction

Sunbathers enjoyed a clear sunny day on Australia's iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney in May. Australia, home to some of the most extreme natural environments on the planet, is recovering from the hottest summer on record.Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images/AFP/Getty Images

SYDNEY — Sydney, the largest city in a country acutely vulnerable to global warming, moved on Friday to declare a climate emergency, joining hundreds of local governments around the world in calling for urgent steps to combat the crisis, some in the face of inaction by national politicians.

The declaration does not include any major new actions. But Mayor Clover Moore said it was important that Sydney, which has already made ambitious pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions, raise its voice in a global demand for action.

“Cities need to show leadership, especially when you’re not getting that leadership from the national government,” Moore said.


Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Climate Council, a research center, said Sydney’s declaration — which the City Council is expected to easily approve — underlined “just how serious the climate change issue is.”

“It is a genuine crisis,” she said. “Sydney has responded in an appropriate way.”

Australia, home to some of the most extreme natural environments on the planet, is recovering from the hottest summer on record — a season of raging wildfires, burning fruit on trees, and crippling drought in farming regions.

But in national elections last month, voters rejected the major party calling for stronger action on climate change, delivering a surprise victory to the incumbent conservative government, which has resisted proposals to sharply reduce carbon emissions.

The conservative coalition was propelled to victory in part by support in the state of Queensland, where the state government cleared the way this month for a fiercely contested coal mine.

Federal action has been similarly lacking in the United States, where President Trump has called climate change a hoax and moved to withdraw the country from the Paris climate accord.

In that void, state and local governments have taken up the mantle of action, with lawmakers in New York state this week approving a plan to virtually eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. New York joined a half dozen Western states like California in setting a goal of a carbon-free future.