New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency – good for them then. Under which coal fired boilers will be removed from government offices. OK:
New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.
Hey, it’s their country, they get to screw it up as they wish.
There will, no doubt, be those who insist that we in Britain go next. The answer being no. Not just because it’s our place and we get to decide how to screw it up. But because we have the Civil Contingencies Act:
Meaning of “emergency”
(1)In this Part “emergency” means—
(a)an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom,
(b)an event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment of a place in the United Kingdom, or
(c)war, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to the security of the United Kingdom.
(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) an event or situation threatens damage to human welfare only if it involves, causes or may cause—
(a)loss of human life,
(b)human illness or injury,
(d)damage to property,
(e)disruption of a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel,
(f)disruption of a system of communication,
(g)disruption of facilities for transport, or
(h)disruption of services relating to health.
(3)For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) an event or situation threatens damage to the environment only if it involves, causes or may cause—
(a)contamination of land, water or air with biological, chemical or radio-active matter, or
(b)disruption or destruction of plant life or animal life.
(4)A Minister of the Crown, or, in relation to Scotland, the Scottish Ministers, may by order—
(a)provide that a specified event or situation, or class of event or situation, is to be treated as falling, or as not falling, within any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (1);
(b)amend subsection (2) so as to provide that in so far as an event or situation involves or causes disruption of a specified supply, system, facility or service—
(i)it is to be treated as threatening damage to human welfare, or
(ii)it is no longer to be treated as threatening damage to human welfare.
OK, that’s what an emergency is, who can declare it and why. Once such an emergency is declared what happens then?
Emergency regulations may make provision of any kind that could be made by Act of Parliament or by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative; in particular, regulations may—
(a)confer a function on a Minister of the Crown, on the Scottish Ministers, on the National Assembly for Wales, on a Northern Ireland department, on a coordinator appointed under section 24 or on any other specified person (and a function conferred may, in particular, be—
(i)a power, or duty, to exercise a discretion;
(ii)a power to give directions or orders, whether written or oral);
(b)provide for or enable the requisition or confiscation of property (with or without compensation);
(c)provide for or enable the destruction of property, animal life or plant life (with or without compensation);
(d)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, movement to or from a specified place;
(e)require, or enable the requirement of, movement to or from a specified place;
(f)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, assemblies of specified kinds, at specified places or at specified times;
(g)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, travel at specified times;
(h)prohibit, or enable the prohibition of, other specified activities;
(i)create an offence of—
(i)failing to comply with a provision of the regulations;
(ii)failing to comply with a direction or order given or made under the regulations;
(iii)obstructing a person in the performance of a function under or by virtue of the regulations;
(j)disapply or modify an enactment or a provision made under or by virtue of an enactment;
(k)require a person or body to act in performance of a function (whether the function is conferred by the regulations or otherwise and whether or not the regulations also make provision for remuneration or compensation);
(l)enable the Defence Council to authorise the deployment of Her Majesty’s armed forces;
(m)make provision (which may include conferring powers in relation to property) for facilitating any deployment of Her Majesty’s armed forces;
(n)confer jurisdiction on a court or tribunal (which may include a tribunal established by the regulations);
(o)make provision which has effect in relation to, or to anything done in—
(i)an area of the territorial sea,
(ii)an area within British fishery limits, or
(iii)an area of the continental shelf;
(p)make provision which applies generally or only in specified circumstances or for a specified purpose;
(q)make different provision for different circumstances or purposes.
Effectively we blow up all freedoms, rights and civil liberties which have accreted to us, the people, over the past millennium.
It’s an Enabling Law that is.
Declaring an emergency – sure, in the meaning of the Act and all that – means any popinjay in office gets to tell us all how to live, in detail, for the length of the emergency.
So, no, we’d best not declare a climate emergency, had we?