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1. Description

On the 1st of January 2020, NOW! launched a petition targeted at the United Nations Security Council to demand that it recognizes climate change as a threat to peace under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and as a result declares a global climate emergency. 

Following this, the petition will demand that the U.N. Security Council decides on measures in accordance with article 41 to counter the climate emergency.

2. Reasons

Climate change is an existential threat to the world, peace, and security. Despite having known this for decades, humankind has not managed to deal with it adequately. 

Even Secretary-General António Guterres stated: “Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods and our lives”. The U.N. reinforced this claim: “Climate change has posed clear threats to international peace and security, with natural disasters displacing three times as many people as conflicts; forcing millions to flee their homes in search of refuge. Growing tensions over resources, mass movements of people, and endangered food security are escalating and affecting every country on every continent.” 

Individual actions by countries cannot change the global trend that is the destruction of our planet. It is high time for the UN security council to declare a global climate emergency to ensure that the world takes seriously the existential threat that is climate change. We need a binding decision with a clear path forward that forces all governments to act now. If successful, after the Security Council declares a climate emergency under Chapter VII, it will have to make concrete recommendations or decisions on how to address this threat to peace to maintain international order. As a result, for the first time, the world will have to move forward as One, giving us the best chance at solving this crisis. 

Having said this, we understand that given the current Permanent Five structure of the Security Council, a climate emergency is unlikely to be declared straight away (i.e. the skeptical stances on climate taken by the U.S. and Russian governments are as of now really difficult obstacles to overcome). But through petitions, marches, lobbying, and elections, this will change over time, just like governments will.

In addition, pushing forward this petition both in front of the UN Security Council and countries part of the Security Council in 2020 and 2021 will create national debates and information raising opportunities. It will give a meaningful alley of engagement to all coming from countries where the climate topic is absent from the political agenda or simply ignored by leaders, and a chance to push the topic forward. The chance to debate such a topic in the U.N. Security Council will also showcase the role that intergovernmental institutions can and should have on this matter, and will create an international space for discussion.

Finally, the campaign will present many additional opportunities and potential developments, including during the selection of the U.N. Security General (demanding that the climate emergency is at the top of their agenda), as well as be the basis for other campaigns during elections, including the U.S. presidential one. 

Indeed, the Global Climate Emergency campaign is anchored in the broader climate change agenda that we will push forward, from passing national laws on carbon taxes to de-subsidizing fossil fuels. It’s only the first step to affect drastic change and save our only planet. 

3. Methodology

To acknowledge that climate change is a threat to peace and thus declare a Global Climate Emergency, nine members of the UN Security Council will need to vote in favor of discussing this topic, and nine members of the UN Security Council (with 0 vetoes from the Permanent Five) will need to vote in favor of that resolution.

To get there, we will: 

  1. On January 1st: launch a global petition to the UNSC itself, for humans from all over the world to be able to voice their support, 
  2. Once substantial backing is achieved (around 100,000 signatures), launch petitions to each U.N. Security Council member’s parliament will be opened, asking for these governments to request for our petition to be discussed in the UNSC, and to declare a climate emergency both at the national level and in the UNSC. 
    1. It is important to note that 10 out of 15 countries sitting in the UNSC in 2020 have official channels to accept petitions, including the P5. 
  3. The global petition will stay open to harness support from all the people coming from countries that do not currently sit on the Security Council. When the global petition reaches 1,000,000 signatures, it will be sent to the U.N. Secretary-General urging them to take action.

4. Key campaign moments (short-term)

Months in 2020


Key events


Launch & coalition building



Pressure campaign on Belgium, as rotating Chair of the SC



Pressure campaign on China, as rotating Chair of the SC

EU Council (given the presence of 4 EU countries)


Pressure campaign on Dominican Republic, Preparation for triggering of national petitions

World Health Day


Focus on national petition in Estonia, as rotating Chair of the SC

UN Forum on Forest


Focus on national petition in France, as rotating Chair of the SC

UN Ocean Conference


Focus on national petition in Germany, as rotating Chair of the SC

UN High-Level Political Forum


Analysis and re-assessment of strategy


5. Key Stakeholders 

In 2020, the following countries will be members of the U.N. Security Council, and are thus our main targets: Belgium, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Niger, People's Republic of China, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.

Within these countries, our petition-building efforts will focus on the parliaments of those fifteen countries, liaising with key ministries (of environment and foreign affairs), on their heads of states. We will also target the UN environmental program and U.N. Secretary-General. 


Sign the petition!