What does calling a climate emergency mean? – Cherop Soy 

In categories: 

By definition, a climate emergency is “…serious and urgent problems that are being caused or likely to be caused by changes in the world’s weather, in particular the world getting warmer as a result of human activity increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere…” while an emergency is defined as “…something dangerous or serious, such as an accident that happens suddenly or unexpectedly and needs fast action in order to avoid harmful results…”  

Understanding these definitions are the first step to calling for a climate emergency in the sense that we get to understand the cause and effect of our climate actions or the lack thereof. In both scenarios, the effects are dire and unwanted, and the solutions must be urgent!  

Calling a climate emergency means first and foremost acknowledging that climate change is happening no matter how big or small the change is; and regardless of where the change is being experienced. The question that follows oftentimes then lies in who calls this emergency? Who is responsible for sounding this alarm? The answer is plain and simple – it is everyone’s responsibility! And why is that? It is because the climate emergency has been caused by anthropogenic activities. 

Acting and calling a climate emergency is deeply rooted in significantly limiting global emissions within the 1.5 degrees range by the year 2030 or earlier. This action needs happen simultaneously at the national, sectoral and overall global levels. States and their national governments are required to set policies and regulations to reflect their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while decarbonising their key sectors. The involvement of civil society is crucial in keeping states in check by monitoring the implementation of these policies. 

Moreover, calling a climate emergency means showing up and showing out in our different capacities to raise climate ambition including banking in the future. Our 1.5 degrees campaign does exactly this using a league table to rank the Times Higher Education top 30 universities according to their progressiveness (or lack thereof) among the disciplines of economics, law, politics, engineering and health in preparing university students to tackle the climate and ecological crises. In doing so, we ensure that the future leaders and industry leads are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of how to manoeuvre and overcome this climate emergency. 

Cherop Soy

  1. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/climate-emergency 
  1. https://www.unep.org/facts-about-climate-emergency 
  1. http://www.act4ruleoflaw.org/en/news/civilsociety