Sustainable living

Sydney’s climate emergency: why we need to act now

Across the globe, cities are declaring a climate emergency and calling on government at all levels to do the same.


A climate emergency is public recognition that gradual responses to global warming are no longer sufficient.

Right now, more than 900 councils across 18 countries have made a climate emergency declaration – including other major cities like London, Auckland and Vancouver.

From the Blue Mountains to Bellingen, Byron and Newcastle, councils across cities and regional Australia are declaring a climate emergency.

So far, 40 local councils have declared a climate emergency, including our neighbours in north Sydney, the inner west and Randwick.

Declaring an emergency signals the need to go beyond business as usual. It recognises that time is running out to stop irreparable harm to our environment.

The City of Sydney has declared a climate emergency

At our June council meeting, City of Sydney councillors voted to declare a climate emergency (PDF 0.1 MB).

Our declaration acknowledges that the climate crisis is already having impacts in our communities and in particular our rural communities. We’re also concerned about the economic and social consequences of global warming.

We call on state and federal governments to join us in taking a leadership role and act together to prevent runaway global warming.

And we encourage other councils to take on a climate emergency response. This will help build a community mandate for emergency action by all levels of government.

Supporting our communities through a transition to a low-carbon economy is an important element of our declaration. This is a human issue as much as an environmental one.

That’s why we’re calling on the federal government to establish a ‘just transition’ authority. This would oversee a framework to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods through the diversification of jobs and investment in communities that have historically been dependant on coal.

Our communities know this is climate emergency and want us to act

We heard a resounding call to act on climate change from our community during our recent workshops and consultation about the future of Sydney.

You told us you want us to reduce emissions, recycle more and reuse products as far as possible. You also want changes in how we use our city so we reduce our impact on the environment.

We heard a resounding call from people of all ages to act now
We heard a resounding call from people of all ages to act now

We’re working with the NSW Government to support our targets

The NSW Government has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

We’re working with them to ensure our actions and targets align.

For example, we’re ensuring important new public spaces and developments in Waterloo and Green Square meet the needs of our communities and contribute to our environmental goals.

And we’re accelerating our own actions to tackle the climate crisis

We have ambitious environmental goals for our own operations and for our community. This includes supporting our local government area to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

100% renewable sources will power our own operations by 2020. We’re installing solar PV where we can, reducing our energy use and improving our energy efficiency.

Solar panels on our buildings will help power 100% of our own operations by 2020
Solar panels on our buildings will help power 100% of our own operations by 2020

We’ve partnered with the Business Renewables Centre Australia and AusGrid on Power 2 U to help you make the switch too. And we’re working with Sydney Water and regional councils on an ambitious water efficiency program for residents and businesses.

Our growing bike network is giving more Sydneysiders more sustainable transport options. Our residents food scraps trial will help us meet our zero waste target by 2030.

Everyone has a part to play in the face of the climate emergency

Across Sydney, and across the globe, people are working with government and business to fight the climate crisis.

The single best thing you can do for the environment today is to switch to a 100% GreenPower based electricity plan. Call your electricity provider and start the conversation with “I want to switch to 100% GreenPower for the same rate I am paying now or less”.

See more actions you can take to address the climate emergency.

Published 30 August 2019, updated 24 March 2021